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LA's Proposed Billboard Ordinance: Parks to Megadevelopments

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The Planning and Land Use Management committee of the LA City Council revisited a familiar but long-neglected topic today: billboards and how to regulate them. The hearing included a one hour presentation by Planning Department staff detailing a proposed ordinance, followed by nearly two hours of public comment. Given the history of court rulings and emergency ordinances (when the issue was last heard in City Council chambers in August 2009, the full council was declaring an emergency moratorium on digital displays), the proposed ordinance would, according to Deputy Planning Director Alan Bell, prevent further litigation and determine "to what extent do we need to reshape the foundation of signage rules." For PLUM Chair Ed Reyes, the lesson of past attempts to regulate signage was about enforcement: "There was always a reason that we couldn't keep signs in check."

Both sides, however, found reason to take umbrage with the proposed ordinance. The most common complaint among neighborhood groups was that the ordinance would allow the city to "evaluate" putting commercial signage in public parks and on city property. The pro-billboard lobby most frequently took issue with the regulation of digital displays and with minimum size requirements for projects that can become signage districts.

The proposed ordinance would also grandfather pending signage districts that were frozen by earlier litigation but that wouldn't meet standards of the new ordinance. The districts grandfathered by the proposed legislation reads like a who's who of megadevelopments and tourist traps: Metro Universal, Metropolis, Mid-Town Crossing, Figueroa and Olympic, Seward (addition to Hollywood Signage District), City West, Koreatown, Figueroa Corridor, Convention Center Modernization and Farmers Field, the USC Specific Plan, Boyle Heights Mixed Use (Wyvernwood), LAX, NBC/Universal Evolution Plan, and the Warner Center Specific Plan. An earlier ordinance proposed by the Planning Commission only grandfathered in two districts (Figueroa and Olympic and the Seward addition). PLUM continued the item and plans to discuss it further on October 18.
· Hernia Surgery Be Damned: Billboard Ban Passes [Curbed LA]