Big Billboard Ruling Upholds City Ban

A federal court ruling Tuesday upheld LA's 2002 citywide billboard ban

By TJ Sullivan
|  Wednesday, Jan 7, 2009  |  Updated 8:12 AM PDT
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Big Billboard Ruling Upholds City Ban

TJ Sullivan

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court affects the nine states in its jurisdiction: California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.

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Billboards, long the bane of many a Los Angeleno, are so disliked they've inspired bans, countless jokes and even a Web site -- BanBillboardBlight.org.

Regardless, the advertising industry has weathered the opposition with seeming indifference, deeming city efforts to slow or stop them as illegal and going ahead anyway. That is, such appeared to be the case until Tuesday, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a seven-year-old, city-imposed ban on outdoor advertising.

Attorney Paul E. Fisher, who represents plaintiff Metro Lights LLC, told the Los Angeles Times that Tuesday's ruling was significant, not just for his client, but for the outdoor advertising industry, though he did not say what the next step might be.

At issue is the city's seeming inability to enforce its own rules governing the size and location of signage, as well as the brightness of electronic billboards that have recently made portions of LA resemble the mutant offspring of New York's Times Square.

One company boasted to prospective clients that its signs were so big they could be seen from space.

This battle is far from over. Besides the possibility that the ruling could be overturned on appeal, other forms of advertising continue to test the city's regulatory strength.

Tall walls and building wraps, the likes of which were once seen only on the Sunset Strip, have begun to appear on buildings throughout the city, particularly on the Westside and in Westwood.

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