Billboard bans were a common subject for legislation in Los Angeles County during 1998. Most of the prohibitions applied to the billboard advertising of tobacco and alcoholic products. Other measures ranged from yard sale regulations to curbs on gun sales; still others covered beasts and bees and even the thong bathing suit.
Los Angeles County
Subways--One of the most significant measures countywide was approved not by the Board of Supervisors but by voters. In November, voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure that prevents the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from using local sales tax for any subways beyond those already under construction. The prohibition is intended to prevent the MTA from proceeding with expansion of the subway system once Metro Rail reaches the San Fernando Valley in 2000.
Scoring system--Spurred by media exposure of unclean conditions at a number of Los Angeles restaurants, the county improved its standards by issuing "report cards" requiring restaurants, markets, bakeries and bars to post the results of their most recent sanitation inspections (or the actual score if the grade is below a C). Restaurant owners who do not receive at least a C grade are required to attend a hearing within three days. More than half of the county's cities have adopted similar measures.
Billboards--The Board of Supervisors banned outdoor advertising of adult telephone sex services in certain unincorporated areas. The bans are in effect in unincorporated areas within 1,000 feet of residential and "sensitive" areas, including those around schools, parks, playgrounds, recreational and youth centers and churches. It exempts advertisements next to freeways.
City Hall--It was the year of the Big Move. The City Council, assorted city departments and the news media moved out of historic, majestic City Hall to newer, more corporate digs across Main Street. As a result, Council President John Ferraro sponsored an ordinance renaming the new building "City Hall" until the old building is renovated and reoccupied.
DWP--Faced with a municipal utility poised to enter the deregulated energy market, the City Council approved a plan for the Department of Water and Power that includes eliminating 2,000 positions. After numerous hearings and even some protests from union members, the council agreed to make the cuts--and to freeze electric rates--so the DWP can pay down its $4-billion debt and prepare the utility for the competitive era. Under DWP severance deals, a number of employees voluntarily quit or retired.
Pets--The City Council approved an ordinance establishing a $15 fee for microchip implanting--for identification--of dogs and cats adopted from city animal shelters and a $25 fee for implanting the microchips in privately owned dogs and cats. The program is on a leash--on hold--until March.
Guns--Furthering its efforts to crack down on guns in the city, the City Council approved an ordinance requiring a series of background checks on employees who sell or handle firearms, and requiring that trigger locks be sold with each sale or transfer of a firearm. The council prohibited people from selling or handling guns from a gun dealer if they are under 21, recently had their gun dealer license revoked or denied or are prohibited by state or federal law from owning a firearm.
Billboards--The city prohibited outdoor ads for tobacco and alcohol within 1,000 feet of homes, schools, parks, playgrounds, youth centers and entertainment centers.
Venice--Angering a variety of Venice Beach shoppers and sellers alike, the City Council banned all unlicensed boardwalk vending, except performance artists. The ordinance, by Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, whose district includes Venice, says the law maintains "a safe and legal atmosphere for artists, entertainers and other such vendors who contribute to the charm of Venice Beach."
Dogs--Freedom to strut your schnauzer, Shih Tzu or pit bull on the Venice boardwalk from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on summer weekends and holidays is prohibited. The measure was spurred by 150 dog bite reports and pit bull fights last year.
Fences--The city restricted front yard fences to a maximum of 3 feet in height. It also prohibited chain-link or wired fences.
Buildings--Damaged buildings with certain types of welded steel frames must have a seismic safety analysis, and necessary repairs must be made. Voluntary seismic safety guidelines have been adopted for other structures.
Gun control--The city prohibited the sale of cheap guns known as Saturday night specials and required firearms dealers to obtain city permits. It banned the sale of guns that don't have trigger locks or similar devices to prevent accidental firing. Also, gun dealers were required to keep a sales log of all firearms and ammunition.
Billboards--All alcohol and tobacco advertisements on billboards were banned.