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UPDATE: County committee delays vote on SCV billboard deal

Posted: April 17, 2014 2:49 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2014 4:43 p.m.

A Metro committee opted Thursday to hold off on a controversial plan for digital billboards on Santa Clarita Valley freeways, awaiting the results of a signature-gathering drive to put the measure to a public vote.

The proposal initiated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and approved by the Santa Clarita City Council would take down 62 billboard structures along the Metro right-of-way inside city limits in exchange for giving Metro the right to construct three, double-sided digital billboards off Highway 14 and Interstate 5 on city-owned property.

But Metro’s Executive Management Committee delayed the matter Thursday, citing a petition drive for a referendum against the proposal, said Michael Cano, transportation deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Antonovich asked the committee to hold off on the item, according to Cano.

“The main point of this item is the process that is under way at the local level that needs to be resolved,” Cano said.

Opponents of the billboard proposal have until May 5 to collect 13,000 to 17,000 signatures on petitions supporting the referendum, according to organizers.

“I think they did the right thing,” said Canyon Country Advisory Committee Chairman Alan Ferdman, who attended the meeting. “They postponed their decision to find out exactly whether or not the referendum signature-gathering would be successful.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman TimBen Boydston, who attended the meeting and spoke as a private citizen, also said he was thankful for the decision.

“We’re very grateful that they’re going to hold off until they find out what the results of the referendum are, so that they’ll know if there is as much opposition as we believe there is,” Boydston said.
Boydston, who voted against approving the proposal back in March, said he opposes it for several reasons, including that he does not believe the majority of Santa Clarita residents support it.

City Councilman Bob Kellar, who voted in favor of the proposal when it was before the council, also spoke at Thursday’s meeting. He said afterward he continues to believe that the majority of Santa Clarita residents are supportive of the proposal.

“There’s no question in my mind, having been a city councilman for 14 years and having heard so many complaints, that the vast majority of our citizens would be in favor of taking down 118 billboards in exchange for six faces along the freeway,” Kellar said.

Kellar said he thinks it is unfortunate that Boydston spoke against the proposal, since the majority of council members elected to support it.

“In all candor, I think it’s unfortunate that a council member will go out and actively work contrary to the determination of the council and the decisions that are made,” Kellar said.

Boydston said he maintains his ability to speak as a private citizen despite his elected office.

“I spoke as a private citizen and, because this is America, every person has the ability to speak as a private citizen,” he said.

The Metro Executive Management Committee will take up the issue May 15.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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