Summer 2021 News from Scenic Los Angeles

With the City Council about to go into its summer recess, here’s a look at recent developments that we’re following that relate to scenic beauty in Los Angeles County. Some are Good News 👍, some are Bad News 👎, and some are inconclusive for now 👉

Hollywood Hills with famous Hollywood Sign. View from Hollywood and Highland Center. Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, October 14, 2016

👍 Planning Staff Sends Version B Plus to PLUM Committee

The City Planning Commission reaffirmed its support of Version B Plus of the Citywide Sign Ordinance, and at the end of May the Planning Staff codified that stance into a memo for the PLUM Committee of the City Council. This is the version that Scenic LA and 32 Neighborhood Councils favor, which would restrict new digital signs to Regional Commercial Sign Districts only. Park Mesa Heights and Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Councils added Impact Statements in May. We will be watching to see when the PLUM committee takes this up (Council File 11-1705), which could be later this summer.

👉 Finalists Announced for Digital Bus Shelter Program

The StreetsLA staff of the Public Works Dept. announced that JCDecaux and Tranzito were the two companies that will be invited to erect demonstration shelters at selected locations around the city. Because the new proposed shelters will include digital ad screens facing traffic at street level and RFID beacons that will lift data from passing cell phones, these shelters will be a threat to both traffic safety and privacy. At the most recent Public Works Committee hearing on this matter on May 26, the majority of the speakers, backed by Scenic LA and seven Community Impact Statements from Neighborhood Councils, urged more neighborhood input into the placement and design of the shelters. When the demonstration shelters are unveiled, we will be there.

👍 Motion to Encourage Undergrounding of Utilities Advances

A motion by Council Member Bob Blumenfield (CF 21-0301) would request a report from the Bureau of Engineering on the feasibility of micro-trenching and directional boring. Both of these techniques would make it easier to put utility lines underground. Scenic LA led a letter-writing campaign in favor of the motion, which passed the Public Works Committee on June 9 and will go to the full council.

👎 Metro Board Approves Digital Billboard Study

The Metro Board at its May meeting approved a plan to study placing new digital billboards on Metro-owned properties. The new billboards would be erected in exchange for taking down some old static billboards on other Metro properties. The proposed takedown ratio is a miniscule 3:1 (Version B Plus of the sign ordinance calls for 10:1), and would result in dozens of new digital signs near roadways. This misguided attempt to raise revenue would require separate approval from the City Council, so the process is only beginning. We are following this closely.

👍 Meeting with Community Forest Advisory Committee Leaders

Entirely too often, trees have been cut along LA streets to improve visibility of billboards; this is a harmful practice for many reasons. At the request of the Community Forest Advisory Committee, Scenic LA presented draft legislative language that would ban such tree-cutting. The language is based on Scenic America’s advocacy of such a policy at the federal level. CFAC members, assisted by Scenic LA, will meet with PLUM Committee staff members in an effort to get the language inserted into the citywide sign ordinance.

How many ads do American urban dwellers see in a given day?

  1. 500. This was the number of daily ads in the 1960s, according to the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research.
  2. 2,000. An estimate from the late 1970
  3. 5,000. A number that Yankelovich researchers calculated in 2007.
  4. 6,000-10,000. The most common estimates today, depending on where and how you live.

Question: How many ads would you like to see in a day?

  1. None
  2. 500
  3. 2,000
  4. 5,000
  5. 6,000 – 10,1000