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Court May Void City Deal on Digital Billboards

Over 100 digital billboards signs were placed throughout the city, including Venice.

Court May Void City Deal on Digital Billboards

An appellate judge on Tuesday showed support for a ruling that could nullify a deal to allow 800 digital billboards throughout Los Angeles, including at least two in Venice.

In an oral argument, Associate Justice Laurence Rubin, of California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, said that justices favor voiding permits for 100 existing digital signs – in turn impacting the additional 700 billboards in the works.

Many of the current 100 signs are throughout the Westside, including on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. 

Preparing for a court ruling that will ban the signs, City Council has been working on drafting a new agreement with Clear Channel and CBS that may allow the companies to keep their 100 digital billboards and pave the way for other companies to install signs of their own.

The court case stems from a 2006 lawsuit by Summit Media, which was not included in a deal that the city attorney at the time, Rocky Delgadillo, cut with CBS and Clear Channel that gave the companies permits for 420 digital signs.

A Superior Court judge in 2009 ruled that the settlement was illegal and called it “poison” – forcing the city to stop issuing digital sign permits to the two media companies. However, 100 digital signs went up, mostly on the Westside, before the moratorium. 

The appellate court is expected to issue a final decision in 90 days.

"We are disappointed in the court's tentative ruling, but we hope our oral arguments clarified key points to be considered in the final opinion," said Jim Cullinan, vice president of communications for Clear Channel Outdoor.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a longtime critic of digital billboards, said he was “delighted” by the tentative ruling, characterizing it a step in the right direction toward getting a revenue stream for what he called “polluting and harassing” signs.  

City News Service contributed to this report.

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