The controversy over the size and effects of signage in Los Angeles is still raging on as many residents are angered at what public officials have allowed opportunistic billboard companies to get away with and have defined the situation as an "urban mess" and L.A's version of the AIG scandal.
The city has put itself in a difficult position anyway as city Hall lawyers signed off on a 2006 legal settlement allowing more than 800 billboards to be turned into digital signs, and separately has been mostly powerless to slow the growth of supergraphics, those gigantic wraparound advertisements that are capable of mummifying entire pieces of architecture. As parts of the battle play out in court, complicated by free-speech questions, billboard companies have rushed to put up as many new signs as they can.
This issue has been on for a while as Dennis Hathaway, leader of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight claims, as he wrote in a Times op-ed last year, that billboards are "degrading aesthetically as well as socially" and this was reiterated a few weeks ago by former Planning Commission President Jane Usher as she argued that, that "the city of Los Angeles is suffering from a disease called sign proliferation."
I am a little amused at what seems to enrage the average LA resident. The unacceptable level of auto pollution still remains, gang violence is as high as ever, or even higher, and schools are being built right next to the freeway even after the tests show a link between highway pollution and stunted lung growth in children. Yet, this has not generated the level of interest or outrage that the signage debate has.
Los Angeles has always been a city where signs have have been geared to be large, dominating and recognizable enough to become landmarks, defining their location. From the Hollywood sign to signage on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and the 32-foot-high illuminated letters, spelling out LAX, marking the entrance to the Los Angeles International Airport all reflect this culture. So if there is a reasonable regulation of signage in Los Angeles, I think that they might actually enhance the city and help in wayfinding to a certain extent without negative effects such as nighttime sky pollution.
Image obtained from:www.LATimes.com
Info obtained from christopher Howthorne's "LA's Signage Debate"