Monday, February 11, 2002
Council Approves Inspection Program to Crack Down on Illegal Billboards
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
In an effort to crack down on illegal billboards, the City Council Friday unanimously approved an ordinance that would charge billboard owners annual inspection fees, mandate inspection certificates for signs, and create a database cataloguing signs citywide.
Councilman Jack Weiss, who introduced the measure, said the time had come to take action against the nearly 4,000 illegal billboards across the city.
“This will once and for all give us the resources we need to act against illegal billboards,” Weiss said. “We’ve been talking about this for some time. Today is finally time for us to act against the visual blight of billboards in this city.”
Mayor James Hahn will approve the ordinance, his spokesperson, Julie Wong said.
The measure will charge billboard companies yet undetermined annual fees for to pay for enhanced citywide inspection of the signs.
Certificates will be installed on all signs or poles identifying the owners, which Weiss said will “empower citizens to take action themselves” to find if signs are illegal.
Additionally, sign owners will be required to provide proof of permit or a sworn affidavit describing their acquisition of the sign, and the face panels of signs not “lawfully erected” will be erased to a blank slate.
Lawfully erected billboards with illegal alterations violating their building permits will not see their face panels turned blank under the new measure.
In other news, council members Friday stepped up the pressure to remove the concrete barricades blocking vehicular access around the Civic Center.
Weiss said the “massive barricading” in the area needs to be removed right away, since it is not “meaningful security” for the area.
He added that the barricades and closed streets may be sending a wrong message to city residents that the city “cares more about protecting this area than we do about providing real, meaningful security for the rest of the city.”
Councilman Dennis Zine agreed that a wrong message is being sent and said he supports “something more productive.”
“When I drive down and see three or four contracted security folks guarding a door where no one is entering or exiting, we need to redesign that,” Zine said.
Currently, the council is waiting on the recommendations from the mayor and the Emergency Operations Board, whose report on the matter is currently in the mayor’s office.
The mayor is expected to weigh in next week. Council President Alex Padilla has the authority to act accordingly on the recommendations without the matter being voted on by the council.
Last Wednesday, City Controller Laura Chick urged the council and Hahn to take action to immediately remove the concrete barricades and open up the streets around City Hall.
There was also strong support from council members Friday for re-opening the pedestrian bridge connecting the two City Hall buildings.
That matter was sent to the Budget and Finance Committee, and the committee’s chair, Councilman Nick Pacheco, said they would report back to the council within two weeks.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company