Remember that 2006 settlement the City Council made with the billboard companies, a deal which allowed hundreds of billboards to go digital? Today a judge deemed that settlement invalid. This is rather stunning news given that neighborhoods like Silver Lake were freaking out when a digital board moved in (pictured). Here's the Associated Press on the ruling: "Superior Court Judge Terry Green's decision Friday will nullify the city's agreements with CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Communications Inc. in 2006. The deals settled lawsuits by the companies challenging the fairness of the city's billboard ban." Dennis Hathaway, head of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, was at the hearing, and explains more about the judge's decision. Fundamentally, the judge agreed that a city can't legislate away--through a lawsuit settlement--its zoning powers, he tells us. Property owners have a right to be notified that a digital billboard may go up, and there needs to be public hearings, etc. As for ruling itself, Hathaway told us: "I think it's great. It's wonderful, this is exactly what we've been saying all along, that we think it's an illegal settlement." It's not clear what'll happen to all those digital billboards. According to the AP, the judge is expected to rule shortly on whether the permits issued for the boards are legal. And expect an appeal in this case. UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times was at the hearing and reports on the judge's plan to invalidate the settlement.
· Judge Opposes L.A. Deal For Digitizing Billboards [CBS2]
· Yea or Nay? Judge To Rule On Legality Of Digital Billboards, Court Hearing This Week [CBB]