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Council Split Over Call to Ban Billboards

January 23, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Another campaign by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski to ban new billboards in the city drew a lukewarm response Tuesday from some of her colleagues.

"I felt the time was right to comprehensively and decisively take a stand against the proliferation of billboard blight in our neighborhoods," Miscikowski said.

The councilwoman is also calling for a November initiative to tax billboard companies at least $20,000 annually per existing sign to pay for enforcement of city sign laws. She was joined at a City Hall news conference Tuesday by 15 leaders of homeowner groups and community organizations who support that proposal.

"It's the most positive thing to make a visual improvement in the city of Los Angeles," said Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino. There is currently a moratorium on new billboards, imposed to allow the city time to consider new regulations.

Miscikowski also proposed a ban last year, but the council voted 8 to 3 to tentatively support a trade-off plan allowing 70 new billboards along freeways in exchange for the removal of 2,000 in neighborhoods.

Council members Nick Pacheco and Jan Perry said they prefer the trade-off plan because it will help rid neighborhoods of the signs.

Council members Jack Weiss, Tom LaBonge, Eric Garcetti and Janice Hahn--all of whom were elected last year--said Tuesday they support the ban as part of a larger package of laws to go after existing illegal signs.

Weiss has proposed charging billboard owners a fee without seeking a public vote.

Councilman Dennis Zine, who was also elected in 2001, said he supports "any reasonable restriction" on billboards, but stopped short of committing to a ban, as did Council President Alex Padilla and Councilman Nate Holden.

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