With the failure of Measure B, it seems everyone in City Hall — except the mayor himself — agrees we need open and transparent processes and full community participation.
We’ll soon see how that works when the public conversation begins over how to get the most clean energy at the best price in the shortest time and looming billion dollar budget deficits and the billboard fiasco.
Next Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the Council Chamber, the City Planning Commission will take up the latest attempt to quell the latest rebellion by the restless natives without actually doing anything that would deny the billboard companies their staggering profits selling sex and hyper-consumerism.
Dennis Hathaway, the expert on this issue, will post his expert analysis over the weekend at the Ban Billboard Blight website.
City planners released their proposal this week and it is very complicated with tradeoffs that suggest great sensitivity to the interests of the billboard companies and their lobbyists.
For instance, the public’s right to sue over plans for billboards until all administrative processes, including appeals, is taken away and fees for billboards, a pittance at $168, won’t change.
Penalties for illegal billboards that are put up would rise dramatically but it’s hard to put much trust in a system that has such a hard time collecting what it’s owed that it is proposing to contract with bill collectors to collect fines from mammoth companies with their batteries of lawyers.
The chart below from Page 11 of the Planning Department report shows in green how the size of signs allowed under the proposed LA ordinance compares to New York, Chicago and Boston (the purple column). Boston is in the process of toughening its lax ordinance while LA would allow signs as much as five times larger than New York and Chicago.
It’s going to take time to really understand the implications of this proposal especially since City Hall’s track record on billboards like most issues is dismal.
Remember it was wannabe City Attorney Jack Weiss who wrote the flawed billboard ordinance seven years ago that his colleagues on the City Council approved without knowing what they were doing.
It was Weiss, the self-styled expert, who participated in selling out the public interest in the deal that allowed 900 digital billboards to go up after the city won the case in court. Once again, council members didn’t know what they were approving, or so they said.
We can’t afford to blow it again so I’d suggest calling for an extension of the moratorium while Neighborhood Councils review the proposal and have the chance to organize into an effective force to fight for changes that will actually work.