100 Digital Billboards Still In Jeopardy

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

We’ve been keeping our eye on laws and rulings regarding digital billboard in California. But we’re a little late in reporting this which we learned a couple of weeks ago.

You may remember that we wrote last December that a District Court of Appeal said that 100 digital billboards in the Los Angeles area had to be removed because their permits were invalid. The boards belong to CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Outdoor.

In a major setback for the two sign companies, The State Supreme Court has declined to review the case, and Clear Channel Outdoor is now threatening to sue Los Angeles for recovering the value of the signs ($100 million or more).

The decision upholds the lower court ruling ordering the lucrative signs to come down. The company argues that it put up the signs in the understanding that it had valid permits and it is urging the city to enter new negotiations or rewrite its ordinance to allow them to stay up.

The City Attorney’s Office also refused to negotiate the case or relocate the signs.

Clear Channel has already filed a legal claim with the city, the first step in a lawsuit. The sign company stated that it believes the signs, of which it owns 84, are worth at least $100 million.

The digital billboards are located largely in West L.A. and Hollywood. Neighbors complain about the glare and distraction of the boards, which were erected as part of a 2006 settlement.

The sign company is seeking an ordinance or other legislative solution to allows its signs to keep operating.

An official with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s office disputed the company’s arguments, says that “We don’t think the claim has any validity”.

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