NEWSWATCH

New Billboard Regulations Edge Closer to Approval

By Samantha Meglinger - Staff Writer

January 21, 2014 – After three years of discussions among city officials and business interests, Long Beach’s billboard regulations are finally on track to be updated now that amendments to a 2012 ordinance have reached the Long Beach City Council for approval.

The amendments create cap and replace requirements for billboard and advertising companies – this means that in order to create a new billboard, companies must dispose of a certain number of existing billboards. The amount of billboards they must remove depends on the type of new one desired. This policy is meant to reduce the total number of billboards within the city, thereby minimizing blight in certain areas of the city that are cluttered with the signs.

The cap and trade regulations are as follows. To create a new electronic billboard, a company must remove eight other billboards. To create a new non-electric billboard, six existing billboards must be removed. Converting an existing non-electric billboard into an electric billboard, without expanding its size, requires that four billboards be taken down. To convert an existing billboard to an electric one and expand its size, eight billboards must be given up. Another amendment requires a conditional use permit (CUP) for every new electronic billboard.

Billboards in Long Beach

Under new amendments to a billboard ordinance, no new billboards
may be located within 90 feet of residential, institutional or park districts
in an effort to reduce visual blight. The ClearChannel billboard pictured adjacent
to a residential property on 10th Street near
Walnut Avenue demonstrates a close proximity to residential structures that the ordinance discourages.
(Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)

The council discussed the proposed regulations at the past two city council meetings and is due to discuss them again soon. By the Business Journal’s press time, the ordinance was not on tonight’s (January 21) agenda. On January 14, Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais told the council that the billboard ordinance needed further reading because of an addition requested by the council the previous week. That addition requires electronic billboard applicants to provide a cash bond as part of the CUP process “to reasonably insure the prompt removal of billboards.”

Mike Murchison, a consultant representing Regency Outdoor Advertising, acknowledged that the development of these amendments has been a long time coming. He told the Business Journal, “How you get all the parties on the same page has been a two-and-a-half year long process, but I believe this past Tuesday night’s council meeting gave clearer policy direction than ever before and went a long way towards getting all the parties on the same page.”