Last week, the LA Department of Building and Safety finally released a list of all of LA's billboards and, as KCET points out, it's a big damn deal: "Reporters from just about every network and newspaper in town have been asking Los Angeles city officials for years to turn over a list of billboard locations to help determine which were legal and which were rogue. Such a list would surely exist if the city were keeping track of its permits, right? Wrong." This past summer, a USC grad student who wanted the list for her dissertation ended up filing a lawsuit for access. But here finally we have an enormous, difficult to read document with all "billboard locations, complete with permit information, potential violations, company ownership, and a number of other tidbits of data." Huzzah.
Now to the numbers: there are 5,874 billboard structures in Los Angeles. Roughly a third have possible code violations and, by our count, 723 have no permits on file with the city. KCET has created an interactive map so users can help verify the data; they've also plotted the possible violations and permits by company--by far, Lamar Outdoor Advertising has the most unpermitted billboards and the most possible violations.
The backdrop for all of this is a ton of legal wrangling over how many of what kind (i.e. digital vs. non-) of billboards should be allowed to go up in each neighborhood. The city has proposed sign districts that would allow a proliferation, but only in certain neighborhoods, like South Park.