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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

City Moves to Protect Ban on Some Signs

September 26, 1998|SUE FOX

Anticipating a legal challenge to a new law banning tobacco and alcohol billboards throughout most of Los Angeles, the City Council has approved a motion directing the city attorney's office to join forces with other cities that face similar challenges.

"Basically, we're just asking them to get together with other jurisdictions that are ahead of us on the status of their lawsuits," said Glenn Barr, a deputy to Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who introduced the Sept. 18 motion.

The billboard ban, unanimously approved by the council on Sept. 9, prohibits tobacco and alcohol advertisements in public view within 1,000 feet of homes, schools, parks and other areas where children gather. City planners estimate the ban would affect 97% of the city's billboards. Mayor Richard Riordan signed the law on Sept. 17.

Other jurisdictions with similar ordinances, including Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland, have confronted legal challenges to the constitutionality of their advertising bans, Barr said. Opponents of the Los Angeles measure, including the National Distilled Spirits Council, have said it violates the right of free speech and vowed to take the city to court.

Miscikowski's motion directs the city attorney "to establish cooperative relations" with the cities. Such cooperation could include filing amicus briefs in related lawsuits, the motion said.

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