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Court May Void City Deal on Digital Billboards

Over 100 digital billboards signs were placed throughout the city, including Venice.

An appellate judge on Tuesday showed support for a ruling that could nullify a deal to allow 800 digital billboards throughout Los Angeles, including at least two in Venice.

In an oral argument, Associate Justice Laurence Rubin, of California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, said that justices favor voiding permits for 100 existing digital signs – in turn impacting the additional 700 billboards in the works.

Many of the current 100 signs are throughout the Westside, including on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. 

Preparing for a court ruling that will ban the signs, City Council has been working on drafting a new agreement with Clear Channel and CBS that may allow the companies to keep their 100 digital billboards and pave the way for other companies to install signs of their own.

The court case stems from a 2006 lawsuit by Summit Media, which was not included in a deal that the city attorney at the time, Rocky Delgadillo, cut with CBS and Clear Channel that gave the companies permits for 420 digital signs.

A Superior Court judge in 2009 ruled that the settlement was illegal and called it “poison” – forcing the city to stop issuing digital sign permits to the two media companies. However, 100 digital signs went up, mostly on the Westside, before the moratorium. 

The appellate court is expected to issue a final decision in 90 days.

"We are disappointed in the court's tentative ruling, but we hope our oral arguments clarified key points to be considered in the final opinion," said Jim Cullinan, vice president of communications for Clear Channel Outdoor.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a longtime critic of digital billboards, said he was “delighted” by the tentative ruling, characterizing it a step in the right direction toward getting a revenue stream for what he called “polluting and harassing” signs.  

City News Service contributed to this report.

Saltwater November 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I despise digital signs, in fact I hate all bill boards but the digital ones are especially ugly. It makes me wonder what special favors or pay off city official gets paid from the companies that put those up.
Rick Feibusch November 01, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Great! I am getting so sick of being advertised to. Everywhere you look. On the highway, on the information highway, on TV (remember the National Association of Broadcasters who limited the amount of air time for spots..?), cable must be 40% ads now, when you are waiting on hold, radio now strings 8 minutes at a time between records (or whatever the hell they are now) or yak. These things are evil and distract from our beautiful SoCal Skies...
Peter Nott November 02, 2012 at 06:41 PM
If you watch TV and do not like the ads you have the option to turn it off. If you drive down Lincoln Bl. you have no option but to be distracted and brain washed by this visual pollution you cannot avoid. I say boycott any product advertised on these signs. Congratulations Bill Rosendahl for fighting against these ugly distracting signs that are only a cheap way for the city to gain revenue at the expense of the residents
Linda Lucks November 09, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Congratulations to Venice resident Dennis Hathaway for founding The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, the organization successfully fighting billboard proliferation from the outset. Dennis attends every committee meeting and meets with every official to make the billboards go away. If any Venice organization is deserving of financial support and the "Spirit of Venice" award, it is Dennis.
Michael Linder November 22, 2012 at 07:26 AM
"...a step in the right direction toward getting a revenue stream for what [Rosendahl] called 'polluting and harassing' signs." So, pollution and harassment is okay, as long as there's a revenue steam for the city? Hmmm.

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