LA Considering Tax On DOOH Sign Revenues

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

It looks like the City of Los Angeles – already strictly administering outdoor signage (See our March 29, 2010, article. Ed.) – isn’t finished yet.

Richard Hamelin, attorney at Hamelin, Cody & Moore, Los Angeles, made us aware that two City Council members have now submitted a motion to instruct the Planning Department and the Department of Building and Safety to prepare maps to plot the location of all existing digital signs in the city.

We expect that it’s possibly related to news as reported in the Los Angeles Times that the City Council is considering a tax on billboard revenues.

“We have dealt with this issue before,” says Hamelin. “In our opinion, such a tax would be unconstitutional.”

Even though LA is in the US and Toronto is in Canada, we pointed out Hamelin’s ‘unconstitutional’ comment out to Rosanne Caron, president of the Out-of-Home Marketing Association in Toronto, which is currently going to court on behalf of its members regarding the tax on its members’ revenues by the City of Toronto. (See our April 8, 2010, article. Ed.).

Caron told us, “Unfortunately, under the City of Toronto Act, the City does have the right to tax the billboard industry, but the tax cannot be punitive – which is what we are fighting.”

Back in LA, we’ve seen a copy of the motion by the City Councilors who want the maps prepared that plot the location of all existing digital signs in the city, as well as tabulation of the maps by Council District, and their geographical proximity to residential zones.

We’ll be closely watching the legal wrangling in both cities, as we suspect such cases might well be referenced by other bureaucrats in the future.

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