Statewide Billboard Ban a Hard Sell

State budget crisis has prompted the state to mull exploiting its own billboards for cash

By TJ Sullivan
|  Tuesday, Jan 13, 2009  |  Updated 12:18 PM PDT
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Statewide Billboard Ban a Hard Sell

TJ Sullivan

Digital billboards have replaced existing billboards in Los Angeles by the hundreds during the past few years.

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California State Assemblyman Mike Feuer, of Los Angeles, looks to be serious about battling the owners of those junior JumboTrons that have invaded Los Angeles by the hundreds in the past couple years.

Besides proposing a two-year statewide ban on digital billboards last Friday, Feuer was expected to present draft copies of a new, LA-city-planner-approved billboard ban ordinance on Tuesday, says LA Weekly.

All of this would appear to be building momentum, especially after the ruling released last week by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a seven-year-old, city imposed ban on outdoor advertising.

Yet, despite all the movement, the chance of this going anywhere is slim.

Although Los Angeles was victorious defending its 2002 ban, officials remain largely ineffective in their battle against the conversion of existing billboards into digital ones. Feuer's proposed moratorium would supersede any local rules and rulings, but he's going to have to get past the California Legislature first.

Any proposal containing words like "ban" or "moratorium" are always greeted coldly by elected officials at any and every level of government. As much as elected officials have a hard time saying "no," it's even more difficult for them to say "not any more." And in this case, they're being asked to take on a partner, and a revenue source.

Besides California's consideration of selling advertising on its own highway-adjacent Amber Alert billboards, advertising companies have been working with the state to carry Amber Alert messages on commercial digital billboards.

It wouldn't be a surprise if the budget trumped this one.

-- TJ Sullivan

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