A Statement from Scenic America and Scenic Los Angeles on Metro's Transportation Communications Network
September 20, 2023
Image credit: Jake Blucker, Unsplash

Scenic America and Scenic Los Angeles are deeply concerned about the Los Angeles City Planning Commission’s 6-0 vote in favor of Metro’s proposed transportation communication network (TCN). Despite a vocal, sustained, and informed opposition by members of the community, the Planning Commission has effectively decided to put the profits of the outdoor advertising industry ahead of its own citizens and taxpayers. If ultimately passed by the City Council, this proposal will bring unprecedented scenic blight and visual pollution to our community.

We have been present every step of the way, from the TCN’s initial proposal in 2022, to the CPC’s unanimous vote on September 14. Through every meeting, hearing, and gathering of city commissioners, we have been given nothing short of a fraudulent explanation of the supposed “benefits” and “contributions” of Metro’s proposed TCN. It appears that the City has gone along with the arrangement in lockstep with Metro, failing to address or even consider the many shortcomings of this proposal, as we have made very apparent on many occasions:

  1. The claim that the TCN will raise much-needed funds for transportation has been made over and over, but never proven nor exemplified through actual, concrete facts. Best projections place a 20-year revenue figure at $300M-$500M. That’s $15M per year at a rate of $187k per sign per year considering 80 signs and$300m over 20 years. Taxing LA county residents $2 each per year would generate the same revenue.
  2. The claim that the digital displays will be neither distracting nor polluting is nothing short of a lie. At 8-seconds, the refresh rate is enough to take eyes off the road of our already busy roads and interstates. With an estimated 88% of messaging being devoted to advertisements, the argument that these signs will contribute to public service messaging is a stretch. Most motorists will not see any public service messaging during their commutes. Aside from being distracting and dangerous to drivers, the light pollution these signs will add to their communities cannot be ignored. Despite the claims that the signs will be non-light-polluting due to their construction cannot be verified nor proven at this time and should therefore be taken with a non-insignificant grain of salt.
  3. The takedown ratio continues to be a point of contention and negotiation. During the hearing on September 14, Scenic Los Angeles proposed that all illegal operating billboards in Los Angeles must be taken down before a permit could be granted for the new digital signs as proposed by Metro’s TCN. That would be over 1,000 signs coming down in LA. Instead, the commissions proposed the removal of a meager 125 signs on Metro property before any permits for new digital signage are granted, a measly takedown ratio of 3:1. Simply not good enough! We must demand a 10:1 takedown ratio and that every illegal billboard in LA must come down before anything new goes up.

These are only several of the issues we have with Metro’s proposal, as we have vocalized our continuous opposition to this plan since early last year. We are hopeful that these matters will be heard by the Los Angeles City Council and that they recommend more changes to the TCN proposal. Until then, we will continue to voice our opposition to any new billboards or other forms of visual blight in Los Angeles and beyond.

Mark Falzone
President, Scenic America

Dustan Batton
Director, Scenic Los Angeles

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