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Neighborhood Council Dispatch: Mid-City Ponders A Sign District

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It's another edition of Neighborhood Council Dispatch, wherein Curbed and its correspondents sit for hours at neighborhood council board meetings to bring back the first word of what changes are afoot in the area. Your reports from the field always encouraged to the tipline.

The Mid-City Neighborhood Council is in the position of having to decide whether or not to back a proposed sign district, to essentially recommend allowing advertising to blanket a good deal of the Midtown Crossing project, developer CIM's two-phase commercial development around San Vicente, Pico, and Venice blvds. And talk about the sign district took up most of last night's board meeting, a discussion that saw Bruce Durbin, head of the Mid-City Planning & Land Use Committee present the latest information from CIM. The issue is particularly timely given that the Planning Commission will discuss the proposed sign ordinance tomorrow, an ordinance which allows seven sign districts, including one in Mid- City (and there are those railing against the grandfathered sign districts). Ultimately, the City Council will likely vote on the sign district, a vote expected to occur this summer.

-----Durbin, who is head of Planning and Land Use Committee, gave a presentation to the Mid-City board following a subcommittee meeting with CIM the previous week. Some of the information he relayed came from Philip Friedl, CIM vice-president, who was also present at last night’s meeting.


---In response to the comments from the Mid-City Neighborhood Council, CIM has reduced the number of signs from 14 to 11. There will be no digital billboards—CIM dropped the proposed digital billboard on Rimpau Blvd.

---CIM also reduced the size of 2 signs by 25%, but they increased the size of one sign by 25%. The biggest sign is now 2,700 square feet. The other signs range from 700 square feet to 1,875 square feet.

Criticisms/defense of CIM:

---Durbin said that the CIM rep told the subcommittee that the recent press and media buzz about CIM has resulted in “unfair characterizations" of the company. In defending themselves, CIM reps argued that they invest in under-served neighborhoods, according to Durbin. For example, CIM was the one to take a risk and to go into Hollywood, CIM reps told Durbin.


---According to Durbin, CIM said the project doesn’t stand on its own and that it needs assistance from the CRA and the city to see it through to completion. This is a topic that has been covered before.

---The project "pencils out" with the advertising, CIM reps told the subcommittee, according to Durbin.


----Some more of Durbin’s worries: “The project would not comply with the ordinance that’s going before the Planning & Land Use Committee this week. Do you really want to allow something that wouldn’t be allowed by the new ordinance?” he asked board members.

---He also asked this question: Why does CIM want 11 signs? How did they come to that number? Why not a smaller number?

--Durbin also expressed this sentiment re: approving/not approving a sign district: "What we do has repercussions for all of Los Angeles. This isn't just about our neighborhood."

Reaction from the other neighborhood council board members to Durbin’s presentation.

---One board member was very vocal that the sign district should be supported.

---Another board member believed the neighborhood would have some control over the content of the signs. Durbin told him that no, likely residents wouldn’t have control since an advertising company since a third-party company would be in charge of the advertising.

---There was also discussion about whether three homes on Venice would face signs ie could one see the signs from their kitchen windows.

Timeline going forward:

April 6th: Hearing before a public officer at city of planning department. It's around this time that the Mid-City Neighborhood Council will likely make its recommendation on whether to support the sign district, according to Durbin.

May 14th: Planning Commission will hear the project details. There will be a 15-day comment period afterward.

June/July: Expected to head to a full City Council vote.

Neighborhood council members drew an outline of all the signs and where they would fall....