Updated Nov. 9, 2:30 p.m.
Editor's Note: This column, which Patch posted from Councilman Krekorian's staff as a community service, originally had a "question" from "Tracy from Studio City." As a result of a press inquiry, it was brought to Patch's attention that the "question" was actually a composite of questions and comments the councilman and his staff received regarding his role in the city's billboard regulations. Patch has replaced the original question with a description of the inquiries the councilman's staff says it has received.
—Richard Core, Patch Regional Editor
Councilman Krekorian has received a few questions at neighborhood meetings and elsewhere regarding a recent Los Angeles Times editorial that the City Council did the "bidding" of the billboard companies who want to put up more electrical signs throughout Los Angeles. People have wanted to know whether the councilman did do the companies' bidding and whether the Times' allegation that the council members only "respond to power and money" was true.
Councilman Krekorian: I did see that editorial from the Times and appreciate you allowing me to respond. For some background, recently, a judge on California's 2nd District Court of Appeal signaled the court’s tentative intention to revoke permits for about 100 existing digital signs throughout Los Angeles. That is great news for many L.A. communities that have been severely impacted by digital signs. If this ruling is finalized by the Court, it will be a big step toward the City's goal of reducing the number of billboards citywide. It will not, however, be the end of the L.A. billboard wars – not even close.
Especially in light of this tentative ruling, now is exactly the time to press forward and adopt a comprehensive legislative solution to control and reduce all outdoor advertising. The motion that Councilmember Ed Reyes and I introduced last week begins the analysis and public dialogue necessary to achieve three important policy goals that I believe the City must pursue: A significant reduction in the number of billboards of all kinds, revenues to mitigate blight and otherwise assist communities that have suffered impacts, and a final resolution, once and for all, of this seemingly endless battle over past failures in policymaking and bad deals. These three goals are the entire purpose of our motion, and they are expressly stated in it.
By beginning a process to address such a contentious issue in a thoughtful way, I fully expected an avalanche of demagoguery and hyperbole from some side of the debate or another. What I did not expect was an L.A. Times editorial that irresponsibly misstates the content of the motion and the purposes expressly stated in it, and then baselessly speculates about the likely outcome.
The Times should have simply read the actual motion, which is available here. If it had, it would see that the motion calls for the beginning of a discussion about the options available to the Council and that any legislative solutions must be considered in public by the Budget and Finance Committee, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee and the Neighborhood Councils before the City Council acts.
The motion will not result in an agreement to allow billboard companies to “expand their inventory of digital billboards,” and in fact it expressly states an intention to do the opposite.
Finally, regardless of whatever early input or suggestions on this subject some stakeholders may have offered to other people, I am the person responsible for the actual motion that was in fact introduced and passed by the Council. Period. The Times’ implication to the contrary is simply false.
The status of the ongoing litigation over digital billboards offers the city a tremendous opportunity to take control of this issue and determine our own destiny in the best interests of all Angelenos. If we can stop demonizing and start thinking, we can substantially reduce billboard blight in all parts of the City. We can determine whether any digital billboards are appropriate anywhere, and if so, we can regulate them and reduce their impact on communities. We can identify and secure funding to address the urgent needs of neighborhoods across Los Angeles. But we can’t achieve any of this if our city has so succumbed to extremism that even discussing ideas becomes a basis for contempt. The Times may believe that we are that kind of city, but I do not.
I was not elected to do only what was popular, nor to by swayed by the loudest screeching voice. I was elected to help steer our city through a time of great crisis and challenge and to build a foundation for a much better future. Developing straightforward solutions to the billboard problems that have vexed us for years is a part of that mission, and I will continue to work hard to achieve them in the most inclusive and open manner possible.