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City, Metro talking plan to remove 118 signs around the city

Posted: December 4, 2013 5:44 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2013 5:44 p.m.

Santa Clarita is considering a proposal from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take down many of the billboards within city limits over the next several years, officials said Wednesday.

During a meeting with The Signal Editorial Board Wednesday, city officials laid out the plan to remove 118 billboards at 62 locations in the Metro right-of-way, including along Soledad Canyon Road between Saugus and Canyon Country and Railroad Avenue in Newhall.

“If you’ve been here for any period of time, you know that billboards have always been an issue that we’ve been looking for creative ways to address,” said City Manager Ken Striplin.

The proposal would enable around half of the billboards in Santa Clarita to come tumbling down.

In return, three new digital billboards would be put up next to freeways in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Tom Cole, city community development director.

Two of those would be built off Highway 14, one in Newhall and one in Canyon Country and the third would be built off Interstate 5 near Magic Mountain Parkway.

Roger Moliere, chief of real property management and development for Metro, said the plan is appealing to the transit agency because it eliminates many small signs and the upkeep required to maintain them.

“They’re often a bit of blight for a community and can be a safety hazard because they can blow over,” he said Wednesday.

Metro will assume the costs and effort necessary for removing the existing signs and gaining approval to construct the new ones, according to Moliere. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Santa Clarita would also gain revenue from rent for the new billboards, estimated at between $450,000 and $600,000 a year.

The proposal requires public hearings before both the city Planning Commission and City Council before it can move forward.

That could happen early next year.

After that, the project will still be subject to environmental review.

Mayor Bob Kellar said the process is well worth any effort on the city’s part.

“I’m going to make a prediction that we are going to have unbelievable support from the community on this,” Kellar said. “I mean, sit back and think about it, how often have you heard people say, ‘Boy aren’t those beautiful billboards?’”
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