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Billboards back on the Santa Clarita City Council agenda

Proposal to remove 62 sign structures, add three digital ones spurs fervent local debate

Posted: March 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita City Council members will continue discussion of a controversial billboard-reduction proposal during Tuesday’s meeting.

The proposal would cause 62 billboard structures in the Metro right-of-way around town to come tumbling down in exchange for giving the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority the right to construct three, double-sided digital billboards off Interstate 5 and Highway 14.

The proposal, originally unveiled as a beautification effort by city officials in December, has resulted in a great deal of discussion from council members and members of the public alike.

City Council members originally approved moving forward with the proposal at a meeting in February following hours of discussion and public comments. When council members approved moving forward with the deal by a 3-1 vote they did so with a list of changes to the wording of the proposal.

The deal almost fell apart earlier this month when officials from Metro indicated they would not support one of the council’s conditions, language that would essentially ensure that Metro, not the city, would be responsible for any costs of lawsuits filed claiming the billboards off the freeways resulted in traffic collisions.

But at the March 11 council meeting, city officials announced that Metro had agreed to the council’s term, putting the deal back in play.

City Council members again voted at that meeting to move forward with the deal, setting the stage for Tuesday’s second reading of the proposal.

Another recent twist to the billboard issue came last week, when the California Office of Outdoor Advertising sent a letter saying the agency plans to rescind two preliminary application approvals granted to Allvision, a consulting company involved with the proposal, to construct one of the digital billboards.

Allvision will now have to go through a formal application process.

Council members will discuss the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

Billboard buyout

In a related matter, council members will also vote on whether to approve a deal with Edwards Outdoor Advertising that would pay the local company up to $1.3 million to remove 47 billboard structures in the city limits.

“The agreement includes a three-year phased removal period of the billboard structures owned by Edwards, whereby 19 boards will be removed in the first year, 15 boards will be removed the second year and the remaining boards will be removed the third year,” reads the agenda item on the matter. “With the exception of the first year, the order in which the billboards are to be removed is at the discretion of Edwards, provided that all boards owned by Edwards located within the Metro right-of-way are 100 percent removed by year two.”
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