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See You Next Week! Commission Drags Feet on Billboard Law

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The fate of billboards in Los Angeles is yet to be decided | Photo by dno1967 via Flickr

The fate of billboards in Los Angeles is yet to be decided | Photo by dno1967 via Flickr
By Mark Dolley, Special to LAist

The City Planning Commission met yesterday in a hearing that had been moved to the main council chamber of City Hall, in order to accommodate a mix of angry homeowners and pleading businesses. Before the Commission was an ordinance aiming to replace the planning framework currently governing signage such as billboards and supergraphics in the city.

The current laws have proven unsatisfactory for all involved, leading to the kind of visual blight that caused Commissioner Michael K. Woo to describe the Hollywood signage district as a fiasco, one doing nothing to improve the area for residents or visitors.

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After three hours of sometimes heated public testimony, the commission—so divided it could barely agree on when to take a lunch break—met to consider the ordinance section by section. Prepared by city planners, the new measure proposes a Comprehensive Sign Program that would, as is already the case, see signage for the
densest parts of the city considered on a case-by-case basis. The only apparent guaranteed outcome is that such an approach would generate plenty of work for City planning officials.

They City’s officials had also written up the ordinance is such a way as to limit notifications regarding signage to homeowners living within 100 feet. Public hearings would have been at the discretion of the planning department’s director. But there was unanimous agreement within the commission on the need for greater efforts to listen to residents. An amended ordinance would see notifications, for example,
go out to those within 600 feet.

With no majority in favor of the new ordinance by the end of yesterday’s meeting, despite the amendments, it was punted to next week’s gathering of the commission.