Lawsuit Challenges Billboard Ban in Los Angeles

A new lawsuit is contesting how and which companies have permission to advertise in Los Angeles via billboards. The saga of the billboard ban in Los Angeles continues.

The suit – filed jointly by California Outdoor Equity Partners and AMG Outdoor Advertising on June 10 – alleges large companies are preferred over smaller companies because the larger institutions can maintain their billboards while other companies are denied permits.

The law suit challenges a 2002 ban enacted by the city to restrict billboards from erecting across the landscape. That law has been challenged several times in court.

Billboards such as the one seen above in Seattle, Washington are at the heart of the debate. Smaller companies are fighting for better treatment that is often given to larger companies who can afford to maintain billboard space.

Most recently, a court decision in October 2014 had overturned the law. The judge in that decision ruled the ban unconstitutional because contents – and not the beautification of the city – dictated whether permits were approved. That case could be heard by the state court of appeals before the end of this year.

Los Angeles is not unique in its attempt to control outdoor advertising activities. Scenic America, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., estimates that over 1,500 towns and communities across the country have already banned billboards. According to their web site, four states have also banned the outdoor advertising mechanisms.

Globally, Los Angeles is not the largest city to have banned billboards. Sao Paulo, the seventh-largest city in the world with 11 million residents, banned outdoor advertising of all types in 2006 through their “Clean City Law.”

Critics of the Brazilian law feared losing over $133 million in outdoor advertising revenue and 20,000 jobs with the ban. While no estimate on jobs or revenue lost have been revealed, a survey in 2011 – five years after enacting the law – demonstrated that residents support the ban by a two-to-one margin.

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