Digital Billboards Could Be Banned

The City Council will vote Friday on a proposed ordinance that would ban new so-called "supergraphic" ads and digital billboards in Los Angeles.

After discussing the issue in closed session, the council voted unanimously to have the issue placed on its Friday agenda. The City Attorney's Office is the in process of drafting the ordinance.

"It's a ban. I want to be very clear on that," said Councilman Ed Reyes. "This is not a temporary ban -- this is a real, permanent ban. It's important for the city to have a vehicle, a legal mechanism, to protect our neighborhoods. The complete ban will do that on a permanent basis."

Under the proposed ordinance, existing supergraphic ads and digital billboards would be allowed to remain in place. Three years ago, the city reached a settlement with sign company World Wide Rush, allowing 877 billboards to be converted to digital displays.

Reyes said, "Supergraphics are, in some areas, very imposing, inappropriate, incompatible. There are some areas where it does fit but at this point, we're going to ban them all permanently."

Supergraphics are massive vinyl ads that stretch across the sides of buildings and sometimes even wrap around them.

Councilman Bernard Parks said the proposed ordinance "puts the city in the best position to effectively manage its land use."

"It gives us the opportunity to make sure the City Council is in charge of land use as opposed to many of these companies that have made concerted efforts to put these boards up illegally," Parks said.

The city had been considering a proposal that would have allowed supergraphics and digital billboards in 21 "sign districts" including Hollywood, Encino, Canoga Park, Boyle Heights and LAX.

Dennis Hathaway of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight opposed the plan, saying "sign districts mean more visual blight. Sign districts are a Pandora's box."

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