More On The Billboard Situation At Santa Clarita

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

A cross section of Santa Clarita’s small business owners have banded together in opposition to the city’s proposed removal of 118 traditional billboards along railroad tracks at 62 locations within city limits to Santa Clarita, Caifornia.

As mentioned in our article last week, the Santa Clarita City Council approved a proposal to work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to remove the boards – owned by a mix of Clear Channel, CBS and Edwards Outdoor Advertising – and giving Allvision the contract for three digital boards on two local freeways.

A statement by the California State Outdoor Advertising Association says that the addition of the local businesses to growing community opposition from individuals further highlights the diversity of industries that billboards support as an affordable and effective option to advertise products and services to potential customers.

It continues, ‘A vast array of businesses, both large and small, depend on traditional billboards as a uniquely effective way to get the word out about their products and services. These signs also bring critical community benefits to the city, including enhanced public safety initiatives and increased economic development.’

The businesses registering their opposition cross a wide range from a dental service through such firms as plumbing companies and shower door firms to the local Burger King franchises.

“As the owner of two local Burger King franchises that have served our area for more than 28 years, and as an employee since 1978, I know how much my fellow business owners and myself depend on billboards to direct customers to their locations,” wrote David Wurts, owner, W.D. Restaurant Inc., in his letter addressed to the Santa Clarita City Council. “I believe that the billboard proposal will eliminate an affordable and much-needed resource for small businesses to advertise their companies and services.”

The Committee to Protect Small Business and Property Rights issued a cease and desist letter against petition ‘blockers’ who have been aggressively preventing signature gatherers from collecting citizen signatures to register their opposition.

These ‘blockers’ were allegedly hired by Allvision or a company on behalf of Allvision.

In entering into the deal with Allvision, the City prevented other sign companies from engaging in a open and transparent bidding process, “which ultimately could provide more revenues to the City for local services,” said the Committee. “Allvision stands to gain millions of dollars from the operation and advertising revenue generated by the new signs.”

In addition, there is the matter of Edwards being compensated for the loss of its billboards, while CBS and Clear Channel have received nothing.

The COAA is supporting the citizens and small businesses in their opposition to removal of the billboards. With CBS and Clear Channel not being compensated should the boards come down as planned, we asked Dave Graebert, senior vice-president marketing and communications at Clear Channel, where the situation stands. He says that his company supports the COAA’s call for a fair and open process.

“On the Santa Clarita issue, we are deferring the CA outdoor association for comment on behalf of the industry,” he says.

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