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Westside Urban Forum Discusses Billboard Wars*

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Curbed was in attendance at last week's Westside Urban Forum breakfast on billboards, to listen to West Hollywood urban designer and author John Chase moderate a panel discussion on LA's proposed sign ordinance. The panelists included John Kaliski, president of the AIA/LA, Jane Usher, former President of the City Planning Commission, Paul Prezja, principal at design firm Sussman/Prezja & Company, and Paul Rohrer, an attorney at Manatt, Phelps, Phillips, LLP. After two revisions and three proposed sign ordinances, the panel reflected upon the process the city has engaged in to this point (and unlike last week's City Planning Commission meeting, no one threatened to physically eject Jane Usher. Victory!). Most agreed the major problem in Los Angeles was the Clear Channel lawsuit that allowed 800 digital signs, while panelists also raised the issue of the proliferation of supergraphic ads. As Usher explained, the city should have fixed these problems rather than address the entire sign code. The panel identified three immediate problems: "proliferation, lack of enforcement and too much discretion." What would (most of) the panel ideally like to see happen? All seemed to agree the city should focus on those issues, rather than do a wholesale re-write of the sign code in the near term future, with the exception of Paul Rohrer, who argued for the planning commission to pass the proposed ordinance as is. Meanwhile, they urged the city to spend more time on the larger issue of re-writing the sign ordinance instead of rushing to beat the end of the interim control ordinance that currently bans those billboards banes like supergraphics and digital signs. Too late. The City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the latest ordinance on Thursday. UPDATED [Photo by Partnership Activation]
· Westside Urban Forum [Official Site]