Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Council to Decide Whether to Support Proposed Legislation To Change Billboard Laws
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
The City Council is set to vote today on whether to sponsor proposed state legislation that would allow the city to remove illegal billboards without compensating the owners.
The deadline for introducing the two bills is this Friday. Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski placed a resolution to sponsor the legislation on today’s council agenda.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo advised the council on Jan. 30 that if the city wants to adopt ordinances to knock down billboards, taxpayers would have to pay millions of dollars to compensate the owners.
A state law enacted in 1978 requires cities to compensate sign owners for removing their billboards, even if they were illegally erected.
The law also legitimizes billboards that went up illegally but have remained for five years or more.
Lisa Gritzner, Miscikowski’s chief of staff, told the MetNews that Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, and Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, have been contacted as possible sponsors.
Pavley told the MetNews that she hadn’t seen any specific written bills.
“It’s under consideration, that’s where I am,” Pavley said. “We’ll be looking at it more carefully [this week].”
She added that Miscikowski and Councilman Eric Garcetti “spoke on general terms” with her about billboard legislation when they attended the swearing-in of Assemblyman Herb Wesson, D-Los Angeles, as Assembly speaker two weeks ago.
Kuehl said the bill “will be carried” by Pavley.
One proposal would allow cities to require removal of illegally altered billboards without giving owners an opportunity to bring their signs into compliance and without payment of compensation.
A second bill would allow the city to require the removal of billboards in commercial areas without compensation after some amortization period.
The second bill was written by the City Attorney’s Office.
Not everyone is optimistic about the campaign.
A City Hall source said the 1978 law was enacted after heavy lobbying from the billboard industry, which remains powerful in Sacramento and could thwart any new proposals.
Last year, the billboard companies donated $400,000 in free billboard adds for Delgadillo’s campaign for city attorney.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company