New citywide sign restrictions would be enforced first along Ventura Boulevard in Encino under a recommendation sent to the City Council Tuesday by one of its committees.
But the recommendation by the Planning and Environment Committee did not satisfy backers of tougher Encino controls, which the committee shelved. Committee members said they want to study the effect of the citywide law before considering the Encino measure.
Afterward, Councilman Marvin Braude, an advocate of extra sign controls for Encino, which is in his district, said he will take his fight to the full council. But Braude said his chances of success are not good because of opposition from the billboard industry, a major contributor to the campaigns of council members.
"It's unbelievable to me the extent to which the Planning Committee is influenced by the billboard lobbyists," Braude said.
The council on May 27 adopted a citywide law restricting the location and size of signs, including a requirement that most new billboards be 600 feet from other billboards, except at intersections, where up to four are permitted.
Committee Chairman Howard Finn contended that the law, which takes effect Saturday, would eliminate many signs in Encino: those erected illegally without city permits.
But critics complain that the law doesn't go far enough.
Gerald Silver, the president of Homeowners of Encino, said the committee action would not satisfy area homeowners. "Our objection is not to the Mickey Mouse signs in store windows. Our objection is to the billboards," he said.
Petition Drive Continues
Silver vowed to press ahead with a petition drive to ban billboards citywide. Petition sponsors need signatures of 69,516 voters to qualify an initiative for the April, 1987, ballot.
The proposed Encino law would ban new billboards on Ventura Boulevard. It also would force the removal within five years of about 600 of the 1,500 smaller signs, including ones that are now legal.
Braude said the committee's decision to shelve the proposed Encino law could open the door to the installation of more billboards on Ventura Boulevard once a billboard moratorium expires Aug. 5.
He said Encino needs tough sign controls because it has a higher density of commercial development than other neighborhoods.
Finn, however, said he is concerned about giving Encino "special consideration" not afforded other areas of the city.
During an earlier City Hall hearing, representatives of the billboard industry said it would be premature to impose tougher sign controls before knowing the effects of the new citywide rules.
"Give the new ordinance a chance," said Kathy Irish, a spokeswoman for Gannett Outdoor, a billboard company.
Voting with Finn to shelve the Encino law were council members Robert Farrell and Pat Russell.
Proposals for tougher controls for Encino stem from community complaints about the 33 billboards and 1,500 smaller signs along Ventura Boulevard there, which they say give the area a Las Vegas look.