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Billboard Tax Initiative in West Hollywood Already Embroiled in Controversy

One of Mike McNeilly's "art" supergraphics | Photo by mondolind via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
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A petition to put a local billboard tax measure on a future West Hollywood ballot has been submitted to city hall and it already has city leaders on the defense. Even before a petition has been approved for circulation -- enough residents need to sign it in order to be placed on the ballot -- City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang this afternoon sent out a "voter advisory."

"I wanted to make you are aware of an initiative that has been filed in the City of West Hollywood and will likely be circulated for signatures, under the guise of an 'advertising tax' on billboards," wrote Prang. "While some may think that this could generate additional revenue for the City, the reality is that this initiative does much more than simply provide for the taxation of billboards. It actually carries a rather sneaky and deceptive clause which would not be good for our City."

As Prang explains, the initiative would place a 7% excise tax on off-site signage throughout the small city. "It also appears that the initiative contains 'Trojan Horse' type language that would allow some building owners automatic rights to install tall walls and other signage that they currently cannot install without going through an approval and permitting process. It would basically allow unregulated placement of billboards and tall walls on some of the City’s main thoroughfares without any local control or authority."