Wednesday, October 22, 2008

City Council approves electronic billboard motion

The City Council approved my motion directing the City Attorney to determine whether electronic billboard conversions can trigger the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City Attorney will report back to the City Council in 45 days.

Under CEQA, projects that may have a significant impact on their surrounding communities must be reviewed through the appropriate public process, which gives neighbors, community advocates, and other stakeholders the opportunity to raise questions and the project's proposer the opportunity to address those concerns and needs before the project is permitted. Requiring a CEQA evaluation would give the public and the City an opportunity to review each proposed conversion's technical aspects such as the frequency of the content changes, illumination intensity, and hours of illumination.

Already, this motion has gotten the attention of Clear Channel, which owns the billboard at Silver Lake and Effie that inspired this motion. In response to residents' concerns, Clear Channel has agreed to turn off the sign every evening at midnight and dim by 67 percent the intensity of sign's illumination.

This is a temporary solution for this particular location, but does not address the long-term issue of whether the sign is appropriate for the neighborhood. Moreover, we need to address the larger problem of creating a process for the public and City of Los Angeles to influence the locations and technical aspects signs as they are converted in our neighborhoods. CEQA would give our communities the process we need to limit the impact of electronic billboards and ensure the conversions occur in appropriate areas. If we can legally use this process, we should.