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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Hathaway Clarifies Update Report on Billboards at VNC Meet

Note: Dennis Hathaway has worked assiduously and almost always single-handedly on billboard blight against big money for years. To this Venice Update writer, he is “Mr. Billboard.”

By Dennis Hathaway, past president of Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight

The report on the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) passage of a community impact statement opposing the citywide sign ordinance requires clarification and corrections.

For one, the sign ordinance hasn’t “recently passed” but is still pending before the City Council.  In fact, the first iteration of this ordinance was first adopted by the City Planning Commission in 2009 and has been bouncing around between the City Planning Commission and the City Council’s PLUM committee ever since.

However, the section of the sign ordinance regulating murals was approved by the City Council and has been on the books since 2011.

Two, the subject of the mural regulation is not “small, hand-painted commercial signs for small businesses” but large-scale wall murals.  Whether or not to allow commercial content in such murals was debated at length, but it was decided to allow only non-commercial content because anything commercial in the mural, even if just a logo like a Nike swoosh, would legally make the mural a commercial sign.  If the city were to allow these, it would have to then allow large-scale murals that were essentially commercial advertising.

This issue has already been the subject of lawsuits in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and anybody who has followed billboard issues knows that if the city opens the door to murals with commercial content there will be buildings all over the city, including Venice, with multi-story walls devoted to advertising for movies, alcohol, cars, and other commercial products and services.

Third, the idea that local artists and small business suffer because of this restriction has little basis in fact.  Major advertisers work through agencies that hire professional sign-painting crews, not independent community artists.  And the revenue from these murals would accrue to commercial property owners, not the small businesses that typically lease the spaces in which they operate.

Anyone interested in a more detailed history of this issue can check out this link.http://banbillboardblight.org/public-art-murals-can-portland-model-solve-legal-dilemma-in-los-angeles/

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