Politics

No amnesty for unlawful billboards, LA city planning board votes

                              The Planning Commission weighed in on new rules that could limit new billboards to districts, like around the airport
The Planning Commission weighed in on new rules that could limit new billboards to districts, like around the airport
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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In a big win for billboard opponents, the Los Angeles Planning Commission Thursday rejected lenient new rules for billboards that had been proposed by an L.A. City Council committee and championed by billboard companies and some business groups.

The commission members voted 7-0 for a series of measures that would require billboard companies to take down far more billboards than they put up.

The commission also rejected the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee's proposal to shield from legal action nearly 1,000 billboards that have no permits or that have violated their permits.

The heart of the billboard measure the commission favors is to limit new billboards to a few districts around the city. These would be places with intensive business activity, like parts of Downtown Los Angeles, Warner Center, and Northridge Plaza. A second tier of smaller billboard districts would permit the signs around sports stadiums and certain corporate and college campus areas.

The win for billboard opponents might turn out to be short-lived because the City Council ultimately decides what rules will govern billboards in Los Angeles.

But the City Council would have to muster a supermajority of its members to overrule the commission's recommendations. (Council voting rules are complicated, but here's how it works, according to the City Attorney's office: On its first try, the 15-member City Council would need a vote of 12 or more members to pass any version of the sign ordinance that differs from the one the commission voted on. One council member voting "no" pushes the ordinance to a second vote where it would have to get at least 10 votes.

Highlights of the Commission's recommendations: