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Bob Kellar: Blight of billboards

Posted: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The Signal recently printed a story regarding the eradication of billboards along the railroad tracks next to Soledad Canyon Road and Railroad Avenue. This is a matter of importance that I wanted to be heard on before it comes to the City Council for consideration Feb. 25.

Our city has a great opportunity right now to take a giant step forward in continuing to beautify our community.

Together we have worked hard over the years to get rid of graffiti, to add attractive landscaping, and to keep our city clean.

But one aspect of blight eradication that has long evaded us is the ability to get rid of unsightly billboards in the railroad right-of-way.

For the last few years, the city has been working with Metro on a plan to permanently get rid of the billboards currently located in the railroad right-of-way.

Because these negotiations involve money and property, by law, we have had to work in closed session. It is only since late last year that we’ve been able to speak publicly about their proposal, at which time we asked for the community’s input.

Metro’s proposal is to remove all 118 billboard faces along the railroad right of way in exchange for constructing a maximum of three, two-sided billboards (six faces) on city-owned property along Highway 14 and Interstate 5.

It is also important to note that the city-owned property to be used for the placement of the new digital billboards is not property that was purchased with Open Space Preservation Funds, as some have claimed.

I want to be clear that I am absolutely supportive of this proposal because it will go a long way toward beautifying our great city in areas that really need it.

I have reviewed the Metro proposal for the new freeway billboards and feel confident that these will be built to 21st century standards, with everything possible being done to minimize impacts to our residents.

Based on complaints I have heard over the years, I am convinced that the vast majority of our residents are supportive of getting rid of the blight and billboards in Canyon Country, Saugus and Newhall and would probably like to see even more of them gone.

I can assure you, I would like to see them gone too, and will continue to do everything reasonable to have them removed.

I have heard from a few business owners that use the railroad right-of-way billboards to advertise their businesses. However, there are so many ways to advertise a business other than billboards.

This city has come a long way in creating a place that we can all be proud of and take pride in being a part of.

The median improvements, the trail system, enhanced and expanding parks, and graffiti removal all come together to make Santa Clarita the envy of so many other cities.

Your support regarding this proposal would be very much appreciated. Should you wish to email me, please feel free to do so. My email address is

Bob Kellar is a Santa Clarita City Councilman, Canyon Country resident and local businessman.



ricketzz: Posted: February 23, 2014 7:22 a.m.

The train tracks will still be there. Why do you support giant TV screens right where the National Forest comes up to the river; where people can forget for a moment they are in the 4th largest city in the Americas? Do you want every square foot of earth to show branding? I don't get it.

The art advocates on council should be against this. Surely they don't think a few football stadium sized big screen TVs can improve on Nature's landscape..

The area next to the train tracks is still next to the train tracks. I never even noticed the little signs were only in the ROW. They don't bother me. It's kind of cool that you can follow the railroad from a distance by looking for the little billboards. Plus they are outstanding for "ma and pa" startups, PSAs, information, (who will the Canyon Country Northbound TV be programmed for? Acton, Lancaster?)

Again, why no artist's renditions of the new signs?

CaptGene: Posted: February 23, 2014 8:37 a.m.

I propose that the SR 14 signs (2 on the SR-14, 1 on I-5, of course) be placed at the newly beautified Sand Canyon offramp. It's fine with me. How about you Bob, are you OK with one right there at Sand Canyon? If not, why not?

Put your money where your mouth is and take the lead on this; go public with your support of the Sand Canyon/SR 14 digital billboard. --edited.

lars1: Posted: February 23, 2014 8:55 a.m.

Mr Kellar, you and the city are just liars and thieves. This proposal is not about getting rid of blight, its about making a million dollars for the city, off of the citizens and small business. If you are so concerned about blight, why is the abandoned house next to the Metrolink Station on Soledad.
It has been there for many years and the city has done nothing about it!

You and your cohort Weste, as members of the Sanitation District Board of Directors SOLD US OUT in favor of the wealthy farmers and land owners.
Our taxes will be going up hundreds of thousands each year to pay for it.

As I have said many times, the city only does what big business and developers want. The city totally ignores what the public wants and does its own thing. This was evident on the roundabout. The public wanted nothing, but you Weste and McLean decided landscaping was the way to go.
The public and small business can GTH.

Be prepared for the election in April when we finally wise up and vote out the dishonest and deceitful city council candidates up for reelection

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 23, 2014 9:18 a.m.

Obviously, more payoffs coming the council's way. What an embarrassment. Do you think we are all that stupid? You think this will eliminate blight, but you are ok with ILLUMINATED huge double-sided billboards? What planet do you come from? The billboards along railroad are easy to ignore, but not those insanely bright LED displays. So sorry that logic gets in the way of all of your backroom shady deals, what a shame. I agree with Gene. I think the Sand Canyon location would be perfect. What say you, Kellar?

lars1: Posted: February 23, 2014 9:31 a.m.

As I said before, you are a liar.
You cannot claim that getting rid of the existing billboards is a benefit, at the same time as saying the new huge ugly electronic billboards are a positive.

You can buy off Edwards Advertising, but how about all the small businesses that depend upon that inexpensive form of advertising. They will also soon be put out of business by such city policies.

The new electronic billboards violate city code, and will be a bigger blight and a BIG NEGATIVE FIRST IMPRESSION of Santa Clarita. But violating city code does not matter, if you buy $$$ off the "city officials" running the show.

Metro pulled a fast one on your citizens by charging them for toll carpool lanes on the 5, when everyone paid taxes for carpool lanes that went in free on every other freeway in LA County.
Metro bought off the silence of our city council, while city councils in Orange County listened to their citizens, fought them and won.

You did not fight for your citizens against Metro carpool toll lanes.
You did not fight for your citizens on the chloride scam.
You did not accomplish anything on the Cemex Mine scam.
You did not fight for your citizens and small business on the billboard scam.

CaptGene: Posted: February 23, 2014 10:26 a.m.

How about this for an idea, instead of putting any billboards on the SR-14, Place one of the in the middle of your roundabout, and the other one on top of your library?

bspringer3: Posted: February 23, 2014 10:52 a.m.

Below is a copy of an email I sent to Councilman Kellar this morning. Unfortunately I can't include my photos here.

Dear Councilman Kellar:

Removing the billboards within the city boundaries is a worthy priority for our city and a certainly a complicated endeavor. There is no doubt that the city has “a great opportunity right now to take a giant step forward in continuing to beautify our community” and I am aware this is an opportunity 25 years in the making.

However, moving the “blight” from one area of the city or another doesn’t seem like the best approach. Specifically the sign just north of Sand Cyn will be visible from many homes along Soledad Cyn; including my own. The sign will be less about 400 feet from the nearest home and less than 700 feet from mine. Attached is an overhead view indicating my home and the approximate location of the proposed sign. Also attached is the view from my bedroom window and again the proposed location of the billboard.

If electronic billboards are an acceptable medium to construct, why aren’t they being built in the current areas where the billboards are being removed? It seems like a reasonable solution to remove 62 structures and then build three as replacements and not move the blight to other locations within the city. This would allow business in the area to utilize them and lessen the impact of removing them altogether.

Lastly, if the Council chooses to approve the proposal, I would like to suggest most or all the funds be earmarked for specific worthy programs and not be dumped into the General Fund. For example, Senior transportation services and taxi subsidies; a Senior center on the East side of town; traffic control around schools (including more crossing guards); or even small business loans or grants.

Thank you for your time and for your service to the community.

bspringer3: Posted: February 23, 2014 11:20 a.m.

Also, below is an edited version (due to limited space here) of an opinion piece published in the Signal Jan 29 but never was posted.

No one likes a NIMBY. I, like most, have found them selfish, self-centered, narrow-minded and stubborn.

However, due to a plan proposed by Metro to build electronic billboards on our local freeways, I’ve recently joined the NIMBY ranks, embracing the label and waving my NIMBY flag high.

My conversion to NIMBYism occurred because, although not literally in my backyard, one of these will be close enough.

The sign slated for Oak Spring will be located less than 400 feet from our housing tract and about 600 feet from my home — most likely viewable from our bedrooms and patio.

My concern is the precedent it will set for that stretch of land and other parcels within the city.

I’ve become a “NIMBY crat” because the proposed location off Oak Spring is currently zoned as open space and will require a zoning change to business park.” It’s clear that a 54-foot-high sign does not belong in open space.

If you allow one electronic billboard, or three as proposed, there is little to stop the powersthatfrom building as many as possible along our freeways.

Does Santa Clarita really want to be known as the city with electronic billboards? Doesn’t sound too inviting for prospective homebuyers.

Removing the signs in the city could have a dramatic effect on local businesses, many of whom use the signs along the Soledad Canyon and Railroad Avenue corridors for advertising and directional information.

Billboards provide a cost-effective, direct means of advertising that would be eliminated without alternatives under this plan.

Will the three proposed signs be affordable and of value for many of those who currently utilize the medium? How valuable will directions to The Computer Chip, New Life Assembly of God Church or Private Mini Storage be for cars going 65 mph southbound on Highway 14 or northbound on Interstate 5?

One business most likely to feel the greatest impact is Edwards Outdoor Advertising. An SCV-based, family-owned company for 50 years, Edwards owns 20-plus signs slated for removal, which will cause a significant loss of revenue, endangering the future of the business.

Certainly without question beatification is a worthy goal. However, there are other possible solutions.

An obvious and reasonable alternative is to remove some of the signs, perhaps those over a certain size, and replace them with low-profile electronic billboards within the same general locations.

This compromise would provide beautification, allow local businesses to use the new signs and lessen the economic impact.

Of course, if electronic billboards were proposed along Newhall Avenue, Railroad Avenue and Soledad Canyon Road, most likely an entire new batch of “NIMBYcrats” and “NIMBYicans” would emerge to fight the same battle.

I’ve made my stand; let a new batch of NIMBYs fight an alternative plan.

jmessina: Posted: February 23, 2014 3:32 p.m.

Brian, you and I aren't always in agreement, BUT I have found you to at least be willing to have a reasonable conversation(s). The sign are just ugly period. They always have been and the idea of removing them has been touched on for years, since none of us really know ALL the details (although some in this thread seem to have a crystal ball no one else has.) I would imagine things will surface Tuesday evening that will shed some more light on the timing of this. Some talk about how bad the electrical signs are and how close to houses and apartment buildings what about the signs now that are right outside of condos, apartments at the entrance and exits to some of the housing tracks as you said removing these would make the area look better. We have electronic billboards all over town, at COC, most high schools, auto dealers on the 5 just mention a few. Why would anyone want to remove the signs from the interior of the city and replace them with electronic signs in the interior? The freeway placement makes more sense many are already in those areas, I haven seen what they are going to look like so I will reserve judgment to them Since you were the only civil one on this post im just responding to you at this point. God forbid the city make any money to help fund things like the Senior Center Programs, Youth programs, Bike and dog parks and so on, we cant have that now can we... Ill reserve total judgment for Tuesday evening when I hear the real facts.

politizen: Posted: February 23, 2014 4:13 p.m.

wow where to begin! Billboard scam so many business will be hurt, we have over 2000 business in Santa Clarita and maybe 40 wont be able to advertise on these insidious boards.
Will Budweiser lose a sale if the board comes down. What about the many times the actual billboard paper is hanging from the billboards in the wind, where is the caring small billboard owner then.
The billboards like these are synonymous with run down areas. Do you want to clean up and male Santa Clarita better or is it fine just the way it is?
I am tired of seeing these things in only certain parts of town, lets put up new ones in Valencia, Saugus and more.
Don't we want to help small business? and since when is it illegal for a city to make revenue to help offset costs. You want money for programs it has to come from somewhere.

RVman: Posted: February 23, 2014 4:20 p.m.

I have had a business were many of these signs are and I have been here for almost 50 years.
Back when signs were all over the non-city at that time including mine. The 14 didn't exist. I'm doing fine I never advertised on those signs, I think they are ugly and they are not properly maintained.

I really cant stand many things about the city but removing these signs is a no-brainer, I say they go!

OnlineScv: Posted: February 23, 2014 4:35 p.m.

Lets say the city can generate 500k or more a year and that the current owner gets a good buyout. WHO CARES! its a win/win isn't it. Cant we suggest or force the city to use the money to improve the city?
I want them down I find them distracting tell me about the "tilted kilt" sign is no distraction? Some signs are behind trees, why bother?
Who checks to see how well these are being maintained I heard one fell on or under a train. Do any of you care about safety?
You scream up a storm when someone gets hit or almost hit as they dodge the oncoming trains by running around the rails but what about the potential for these signs falling and the paper portion coming off in the wind and causing an accident.

cj64: Posted: February 23, 2014 5:19 p.m.

The people arguing that the billboards are a blight and must be removed, dont really care about local small business. The blight of local billboards and no blight of huge ugly electronic billboards shows these people really have just half a brain. Its just about the money. Our town should be called Greedsville, California.

Its amazing when you say that the local billboards don't really work for local advertisers, have paper coming down causing accidents on railroad crossings etc. Just plain bs. Huge ugly electronic billboards that will make the city alot of money are ok. They wont provide local business any benefit.

The electronic billboards all over town are very small. They are not the massive size of the billboards planned for the freeways. These will project a negative image of Santa Clarita and other than the money provided to city hall dont really provide any service to the local community.

The Feds hopefully will come down hard on this. They have Highway Beautification laws that prevent our city council from just changing the zoning just to permit the electronic billboards. The City council will change the local billboard ordinace just to make money.

Things that will be coming to Santa Clarita.
1. Alot of Adult Entertainment venues. These will make the city more $$$$$.
2. Planned development of Indian Casino here. Expected millions of revenue for the city.
All who want to develop these projects, just buy off our city. You will get what you want.

The citizens got together and fought the city proposal for the Walmart in the mall. Threats to boycott the mall if the Walmart went in were heard by the mall owners, and Walmart was dropped. When the ugly electronic billboards go in, the citizens will boycott any advertisers on the billboards.

technologist: Posted: February 23, 2014 6:58 p.m.

"The Feds hopefully will come down hard on this."

I'm curious. Where in the Constitution's list of enumerated powers would the Feds find jurisdiction on properties adjacent to interstate highways?

chefgirl358: Posted: February 23, 2014 7:18 p.m.

Kellar you sellout! Yeah sure, take the town billboards away, frankly I don't care if they stay or not, they don't bother me, but don't put in those giant hideous digital eyesores. Don't try to sell us the bs bill of goods you sold out for, those monstrosities are hardly a beautification effort! Wth is wrong with you people on the council? You see some money and your ethics and common sense fly right out the window.

ricketzz: Posted: February 24, 2014 6:35 a.m.

The commerce clause. It allows anything in a pure globalist world, if you think about it.

OldReliable: Posted: February 24, 2014 7:48 a.m.

I, for one, am delighted that the City is striving to remove those unsightly billboards and it seems to me that if this means installing a few modern ones, then it seems a solid exchange for the betterment of our community.

technologist: Posted: February 24, 2014 8:47 a.m.

"The commerce clause. It allows anything in a pure globalist world, if you think about it."

Anything? Like this, ricketzz?

"A majority of the Court also found the ACA’s Medicaid expansion unconstitutionally coercive of states, while a different majority of the Court held that this issue was fully remedied by limiting the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s enforcement authority. The ruling left the ACA’s Medicaid expansion intact in the law, but the practical effect of the Court’s decision makes the Medicaid expansion optional for states."

TO: Posted: February 24, 2014 12:11 p.m.

Santa Clarita has beautiful views and the billboards just ruin the vibe. The best advertising is online now anyway which means billboards are just old school and obsolete.

technologist: Posted: February 24, 2014 2:15 p.m.

Most seniors are still analog and constitute the wealthiest demographic cohort.

ricketzz: Posted: February 25, 2014 5:34 a.m.

Where are these beautiful views ruined by little billboards? Is this really about a handful of muckymucks and their personal views? Is it really that petty?

Los Angeles said "no", so now Metro is looking to the provinces for some more pliable rubes to sell on the Las Vegas signage. Our biggest selling point is the lack of megalopolis vibes. 6 giant TV screens on the periphery will cement our reputation of being owned 100% by developers and fast buck Freddies.

technologist: Posted: February 25, 2014 9:20 a.m.

"…muckymucks and their personal views? Is it really that petty?"

"…looking to the provinces for some more pliable rubes…"

"…cement our reputation of being owned 100% by developers and fast buck Freddies."

Tragic irony: A literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character's words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

scvbuckeye: Posted: February 25, 2014 10:01 a.m.

As a 17+ year resident of the SCV, I can tell you I've never purchased a single product or a single service because I saw it advertised on the billboards along the railroad tracks next to Soledad Canyon Road and Railroad Avenue. Seriously, have you? Tell the truth, now.

In truth, the only time I ever even notice them is when they are in disrepair or have something inappropriate that makes me say, "Ugh" while then having to explain it to my kids. I have, however, noticed and appreciated the wonderful improvements to the medians and the landscaping along the same stretch of road.

In the 21st century, billboards are known to be ineffective and simply added noise as we are assaulted with hundreds (thousands?)of ads daily. Today, most adults are fully capable of and, in fact, even conditioned to tune out and block ads--even as we drive. To that end, I see nothing so bad about removing these ineffective, ugly billboards from inside the city, while at the same time, allowing a few strategically placed updated and more effective electronic signs along the freeways in order to generate money to fund more city improvements.

To me, it's a win/win because I no longer have to see them along the railroad, AND I can set my brain to "ignore" on the freeway--voila! The city gets new funds and I don't have to see the billboard blight at all in either location!

To those up in arms about the billboards, I do hope you will make your voices heard by the City Council in the most positive and productive way.

DavePutnam: Posted: February 25, 2014 10:14 a.m.

If anyone thinks that trading in a bunch of small billboards for three giant electronic ones (outfitted with cell phone equipment) is going to rid SCV of advertising blight, they are sadly misled. Small business will turn to other innovative ways of getting the word out about what they have to sell. I'm sure there are plenty of mobile billboard companies waiting to swoop in and clog up our already crowded streets. I smell a Second Amendment lawsuit brewing if the City Council decides to move forward on this one.

michael: Posted: February 26, 2014 9:25 a.m.

The Kellar residence is safely tucked away from all the bad decisions made by this council. After long nights make tough decision, like last night, Mr. Kellar returns to paradise. The city often places a plaque near the site of that which they are most proud. Will such a plaque be on each billboard!

ricketzz: Posted: March 4, 2014 6:40 a.m.

What about the ads at the bus stops? How much carbon will each giant TV add to the atmosphere? What are the offsets?

Where's the real estate guy who thinks cell sites are a negative? What's he think of TV screens the size of a house fracturing the darkness?

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