<body> Public Ad Campaign: Questions for L.A. City Candidates: Where Do You Stand On Billboard & Outdoor Advertising Issues?
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Questions for L.A. City Candidates: Where Do You Stand On Billboard & Outdoor Advertising Issues?

Billboard and outdoor advertising activism takes many forms. Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight is by far the most interesting group I know of legally defending the city of Los Angeles from what has become an epidemic of outdoor signage and supergraphics.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Where do the 37 candidates for city offices in the March 3 primary election stand on billboard and outdoor advertising issues? We’ve submitted the following list of questions to the candidates for Mayor, City Attorney, Controller, and eight City Council seats. Check back before the election to see answers.

1. Do you consider the visual landscape of the city to be a public resource that should be managed to protect scenic vistas, architecture, and limit the exposure of citizens to outdoor advertisements for goods and services. If not, why?

2. Many cities in the country, including a number in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, have banned off-site advertising signs (those advertising goods and services not available on that premises) without allowing any exceptions. Do you believe this kind of complete ban is desirable in Los Angeles? If not, why? If yes, how would you help achieve it?

3. In 2002, the City Council unanimously adopted a ban on off-site advertising signs, with exceptions allowed for sign supplemental use districts, specific plans, and approved development agreements. In 2008, a federal court judge enjoined the city from enforcing the off-site sign ban against numerous “supergraphic” signs covering entire walls of buildings, ruling that the exceptions give the city too much discretion to forbid signs at some locations and allow them at others. In order to stop the proliferation of these and other types of off-site advertising signs throughout the city, would you support making the ban enforceable by eliminating the three exceptions? If not, why?

4. Outside of downtown, most of the city’s commercial areas are composed of streets closely bordered by apartment houses and single-family homes. What measures would you support to protect residents in those apartments and homes from light trespass and views of billboards, supergraphic signs, and other commercial advertising located on adjacent commercial properties?

5. Opponents of digital signage have cited light pollution, excessive energy usage, and potentially negative effects on traffic and pedestrian safety as reasons to prohibit these signs. Do you support the ban on digital signage proposed in the sign code revisions now being considered by the City Planning Commission? If not, why?

6. Digital billboards have generated many complaints from residents affected in their homes and apartments by the intensity and changing levels of the light. There are approximately 100 digital billboards in the city now, but 877 have been permitted by terms of a 2006 lawsuit settlement. Do you favor legal action to stop further conversion of conventional billboards to digital, and the adoption of measures to mitigate the negative effects of the existing digital billboards on residential neighborhoods? If not, why?

7. Developers and architects are increasingly designing large-scale billboards and supergraphic signs into their commercial and mixed-use projects, claiming that the advertising revenue from these signs is needed in order to make the projects financially feasible. Do you think this a valid reason to approve amounts and types of signage not otherwise allowed by the city sign code?

8. It has been estimated that as many as a third of the billboards and other off-site advertising signs in the city have been erected without permits, or modified illegally. Do you support an increase in penalties sufficient to serve as a real deterrent to companies illegally putting up advertising signs, as well as measures to allow the city to recover a portion of the revenue earned by the sign companies and property owners during the time the sign was illegally posted?

9. Has your campaign accepted contributions from billboard and outdoor advertising companies or lobbyists and law firms representing sign and other companies seeking signage entitlements beyond that permitted by code? If your campaign has accepted contributions from billboard or outdoor advertising companies or lobbyists and law firms representing these interests, how can you assure the public that your position will not be influenced those contributions?

Go here for a list of candidates, many with contact information and summary of positions on varied issues. Scroll down to the City of Los Angeles. Tell them you want answers to the above questions and/or ask your own questions about signage issues.

Posted under Billboards, L.A. City Government

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