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Billboard Ban Reaction, and Is Alarcon Now Anti?

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Checking in with Dennis Hathaway of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight on today's approved emergency measure to ban new digital billboards and supergraphics, we find a mixed reaction. And a mixed reaction is not entirely surprising, since today's ban really just acts as a placeholder until the city can figure out a long-term citywide billboard policy (and its policy for sign districts). First, a little background on today’s decision: The council’s move was prompted by a forthcoming decision expected in a larger lawsuit brought by billboard company Liberty Media that related to the Interim Control Ordinance, that temporary billboard ban enacted earlier this year. The decision in the Liberty case is expected to come on August 17th, when the City Council is on vacation, and if Liberty wins, the city could be flooded with billboard applications, according to an earlier Los Angeles Times story.

Says Hathaway: "We're very happy to see a permanent ban on digital billboards, which generate lots of money for sign companies and property owners, but have an enormously negative affect on the rest us through light pollution, excessive energy use, and the potential to distract drivers and create traffic hazards. However, the city council still needs to act on the comprehensive sign code revisions approved by the City Planning Commission last March. These include measures to mitigate the worst effects of the approximately 100 digital billboards up now, as well as restrictions on the size and placement of signs and tough new penalties to deter companies and property owners from putting up illegal billboards and supergraphic signs."

Meanwhile, the LA Weekly reports that Councilman Richard Alarcon did an "about face" at today's council meeting. You'll recall that Alacorn was pushing for that sign swap bill. Via the Weekly:

"'We have plenty of signs out there,' said Councilman Richard Alarcon. 'We don't need more.' It was an about-face for Alarcon, who tried to convince the council last month to allow a law that would allow each member to orchestrate a sign swap, which would allows some digital billboards in exchange for the removal of old signs."
· Hernia Surgery Be Damned: Billboard Ban Passes [Curbed LA]

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