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Latest Sign Ordinance Twist: LA Zoo Wants Billboards

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Like the beginning to a story we have all heard many times before, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee met today to discuss the Citywide Sign Ordinance, which will perhaps one day (if passed) regulate the city's billboards. But this time there was a surprise twist: testimony by the city administrative officer and the Department of Recreation and Parks asking for an amendment to allow off-site signage (i.e. advertising things that aren't sold there) at the LA Zoo. As the Citywide Sign Ordinance is currently drafted, the Zoo would not be able to apply for any of the exceptions--a comprehensive sign program, an interior sign exception, or a sign district--that would allow the Zoo to have off-site signs. Many of the public speakers were at City Hall today to speak directly against signage at the city's parks. But the CAO presented a report saying that the Zoo needed signage revenue to deal with ongoing fiscal difficulties.

Rec and Parks GM Jon Kirk Mukri went so far as to claim that the Board of Commissioners for Rec and Parks should determine policy for parks. He also said that the ordinance would create problems for parks and libraries if sponsors could no longer be recognized with signage. However, he stopped short of claiming a need for billboards in parks, saying "We would never put up a billboard or supergraphic in parks."

Councilmember Krekorian spent a lot of time at the end of the hearing making the case that some park facilities should be able to recognize sponsors, including Dodger Dreamfields and the Zoo.

Finally, the committee approved the ordinance with amendments, and now they'll ask the City Attorney to draft the ordinance for another round of reviews by PLUM before it heads to the Council. A new motion from Councilmember Jan Perry will determine whether Rec and Parks will be put in charge of its own sign policy.

Two years ago, the City Planning Commission approved a version of the Sign Ordinance, but PLUM told the Planning Department that it was too permissive, bringing us to where we are today, at the ordinance's third hearing since August. The public comments today were in the same vein as the ones at the August hearing--homeowner groups oppose the grandfathered districts and industry and business groups want it to be easier to create sign districts.
· Sign Ordinance Revision [City File]
· Signs at City-Owned Facilities and Parks [City File]
· LA's Proposed Billboard Ordinance: Parks to Megadevelopments [Curbed LA]