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Billboard matter will be put to a vote

Posted: June 24, 2014 11:46 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2014 11:46 p.m.

After hours of discussion Tuesday night, Santa Clarita City Council members decided to put a controversial billboard ordinance to a public vote in the upcoming November general election, rather than repeal it outright.

In front of a crowd of attendees, some sporting buttons reading, “Repeal the deal,” council members voted to put the ordinance — which gives the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority the right to construct three, double-sided digital billboards on city-owned property off Highway 14 and Interstate 5 in exchange for removing 62 billboard structures along the Metro right-of-way inside city limits — up for a vote and seek to put it on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

“The people can speak through an election,” said City Councilwoman Marsha McLean.

But many of those at Tuesday’s council meeting said they believed the people had already spoken, citing the some 18,544 signatures collected and submitted on petitions to qualify for a referendum.

“If you take this to an election, you will be spending $200,000 to do what you can do tonight and that is to repeal the deal,” said resident Patti Sulpizio.

According to the City Council agenda on the item, Los Angeles County staff has indicated they would support consolidation of the measure with the upcoming general election.

The cost of such an election is approximated at $208,000, according to the agenda item.

Many of the speakers Tuesday night urged council members to repeal the ordinance, citing a litany of reasons ranging from potential aesthetic or safety impacts of the billboards to an alleged lack of transparency in the process to the fact that things have changed because the City Council agreed in a separate action to remove 22 of the billboards in the Metro right-of-way.

The vote on the matter was 3-1. Councilman TimBen Boydston voted against.

“This deal is a bad deal. It was a bad deal to begin with,” Boydston said. “And that’s why I’m opposed to it.”

Boydston said he would like to see work toward a deal that would take down all the billboards in the city, not just the ones in the Metro right-of-way.

“What we need to do is kill this deal tonight so that we can go get a global solution to all of the boards in Santa Clarita,” he said.

Mayor Laurene Weste recused herself on the matter, but the other three council members who participated in the discussion said they believed the matter should be put to a vote.

Councilman Bob Kellar said he heard from citizens who were apparently misled about the nature of the petition by some of those gathering signatures.

“You know as well as I do, there were a lot of people who were the paid people that were not doing it with the level of integrity that you were,” he told those in the audience.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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