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Anaheim Puts Off Vote on Billboard Ban


ANAHEIM — Temporarily leaving a 25-year city ban intact, the City Council Tuesday postponed until December a vote on a controversial proposal to allow freeway billboards.

The council could not summon the votes to either reject or approve a proposal by Regency Outdoor Advertising Inc. to erect 10 freeway signs throughout the city. After a lively debate, the council voted 4 to 1 to revisit the sign proposal Dec. 6.

Regency's latest bid marks the company's fifth attempt in a decade to persuade Anaheim to permit the freeway billboards. The Los Angeles firm's last proposal was voted down in July, 1992.

"This one's been like Dracula," said Mayor Tom Daly, who failed to obtain a second on a motion to defeat Regency's plan. "I wish I could just drive a stake through its heart tonight so it would go away."

But Councilman Irv Pickler, who cast the lone vote against postponing a decision, praised Regency's plan, because it would mean three fewer signs in the city. In exchange for approving the 10 signs, Regency would tear down 13 smaller ones on arterial roadways.

"Any time we can eliminate a sign," Pickler said, "I feel we have something to gain."

Regency President Brian Kennedy said after the vote he will resubmit his proposal to the council in December. Kennedy blamed "special interests" for delaying approval of his plan.

Fourteen speakers, many of them prominent in business in the city, spoke against Regency's proposal Tuesday night. They argued that freeway billboards would add clutter to the city and diminish its appearance.

"I wished they would have killed it right from the top," Disneyland Vice President Ron Dominguez said. "Now we are going to have to go this whole exercise again. But at least it's delayed for a while."

Regency proposed to put four of the billboards at the junction of the Orange and Riverside freeways. The signs would be up to 60 feet above the road and up to 950 square feet. They also would be at least 500 feet apart.

The city Planning Department opposed Regency's plan Tuesday night, arguing the roadway signs could threaten a $1-million landscaping project. Planning staff also said the Regency proposal would interfere with efforts to improve the appeal of the city's tourist areas.

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