Appeals court reinstates LA's ban on new billboards

L.A. councilmembers are debating where to allow new outdoor signs.
L.A. councilmembers are debating where to allow new outdoor signs.
Flickr/Atwater Village Newbie

There was a new twist on the ongoing battle over billboards in the city of Los Angeles on Thursday.

A state appeals court reinstated the city's ban on new billboards that critics argued was unconstitutional.

The sign company Lamar Central Outdoor challenged the city's 2002 ban on any new digital or traditional billboards. 

The City Council wanted to bar new signs that advertise products that are unrelated to  property where the sign was placed. So, for example a billboard for Mary's Donuts at Mary's Donut Shop would be okay, but a sign advertising Joe's Accounting at a Mary's Donut Shop would not be allowed.

Lamar had argued that it was an unconstitutional limit on free speech. Proponents said it was meant to reduce visual clutter from the big signs.

The law was upheld at the federal level, but in 2014 it was struck down in state court in a lawsuit filed by Lamar, which sought the right to erect 45 digital billboards.

Lamar's attorney Michael F. Wright says the company will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the city has been struggling to devise a comprehensive ordinance that would limit new signage to specific areas.