Billboard blight, digital signs are on City Council agenda

| September 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

NEAR ELYSIAN PARK along the 5 Freeway is Metro land for a digital billboard. Image by Allvision LLC

Glowing billboards on Los Angeles County Metropolitan  Transportation Authority (LACMTA, Metro) properties within the City of Los Angeles are coming closer into view after the City Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the City Council amend a zoning code that bans the flashing signs.

At a Sept. 14 public hearing, the Commission approved Metro’s request to display digital signs and erect up to 49 billboard structures, many with double-sided screens.

The Commission agreed with city planners to restrict hours of operation to be from 5 a.m. to midnight to address concerns about lighting up the night sky. The Commission stated that new technology, using louvers,  will dim brightness of the signs.

Opponents at the meeting said the approval puts the city on a dangerous path, akin to looking more like Las Vegas. Birds and other wildlife will be negatively impacted, and the ads, which can change every eight seconds, will distract drivers.

The ordinance will leave the city uglier, less safe and further from its own clean-energy goals, according to the national nonprofit advocacy group Scenic America (

Currently, there is a citywide ban on off-site digital billboards (ones that advertise products not sold at the site). In addition to Scenic America, other nonprofit groups, including Coalition for a Beautiful Los Angeles, oppose this latest proposal to loosen billboard regulation.

According to a July 12, 2023 message from the Coalition for a Beautiful Los Angeles (, City Council President Paul Krekorian is “the driving force behind this effort to monetize and commercialize our visual landscape, attempting to rush the program through as quickly as possible…”

“In December 2021, Krekorian’s Budget and Finance Committee [of the Los Angeles City Council] approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Metro that was buried in an amended supplementary budget report, with no agenda posting or notice to the public. In June 2022, Krekorian removed an important paragraph from a Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) motion that would have required an analysis of the program’s consistency with the City’s Mobility Plan and pending Sign Ordinance.

“Until now, the biggest supporters of these types of digital advertising displays have been convicted city councilmembers Mitch Englander and Jose Huizar. Of special interest, one of the key lobbyists for AllVision (Metro’s single-source vendor for the project) is Areen Ibranossian, former chief of staff to Councilmember Krekorian, who was lobbying for AllVision when Krekorian approved the MOA (as chair of the council’s Budget Committee) and continues lobbying the City on the program to this day.”

The proposal, known as the Transportation Communication Network, is expected to generate many billions of dollars in revenue for its commercial proponent, with one half of approximately $33 million being split annually between Metro and the City of Los Angeles. In addition, 200 older signs on Metro property are to be removed throughout the city.

Proponents included union workers who said the project would create jobs and revenue from the signs. The draft ordinance next goes to the PLUM Committee of the City Council before heading to the full City Council.

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