A "No Exceptions" Approach to Banning Billboards

An outright, carefully worded ban on new signage is the key to ending Los Angeles' billboard drama, according to this op-ed.
April 21, 2009, 1pm PDT | Judy Chang
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"West Hollywood is in fact a vibrant and at the same time livable city and has secured for itself an identity with the famous displays of lighted Sunset Strip signs, grandfathered into the cityscape from its days as an unincorporated area untouched by L.A. regulation. Hollywood Boulevard could have some of that glitz as well and so, perhaps, could portions of Wilshire. The proposed ordinance delineates other areas that would be eligible to become billboard districts, including portions of Crenshaw, Ventura and Topanga Canyon boulevards and -- significantly -- some stretches of freeway currently off-limits to signs. The districts cover a lot of ground, but if the proposal becomes law in its current form and is enforced, new billboards would be permitted in fewer parts of the city than they are currently.

But just because a Koreatown club owner wants billboards, that doesn't mean the people who live in the district want them. Nor should Angelenos automatically accept the assertion that the city's future leaders and tastemakers are clamoring for more billboards. In adopting a moratorium on new fast-food outlets in parts of South Los Angeles last year, some City Council members asked why it makes sense to allow one drive-through after another in one part of town, while other parts reject them as blight. Why, by the same token, should some parts of town be considered open ranges for another type of visual blight?"

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Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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