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UPDATE: City Council votes to move forward with billboard proposal

Metro plan would eliminate dozens of signs and add three electronic ones

Posted: February 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2014 7:02 p.m.

This image provided by the city of Santa Clarita shows what Railroad Avenue would look like after the billboards targeted for removal are gone.

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In a move officials say will beautify Santa Clarita and some local businesses say will take away a valuable advertising resource, members of the Santa Clarita City Council voted 3-1 this week to move forward with a controversial proposal to remove many billboards in the city in exchange for construction of three digital billboards off Highway 14 and Interstate 5.

The vote followed hours of discussion that started Tuesday night and continued into the early hours Wednesday.

Members of the public, the council and officials from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority debated the issue before the vote.

Metro proposed the billboard reduction plan to the city. The plan would allow the city to realize a long-held goal of ridding major thoroughfares of unsightly billboards.

“If you’ve been here for any period of time, you know that billboards have always been an issue that we’ve been looking for creative ways to address,” said City Manager Ken Striplin during a meeting with The Signal editorial board in December.

The proposal entails removal 118 billboards on 62 structures throughout Santa Clarita in exchange for Metro to gain the right to build three digital billboards along Highway 14 and Interstate 5.

The deal would also offer the city revenue: estimated at between $450,000 and $600,000 a year from the new digital billboards.

Much of the debate during the night centered on the effects on small businesses of removing the billboards.

Especially hard hit would be locally owned Edwards Outdoor Advertising, which owns many of the billboards slated for removal.

“You are considering a deal with the MTA — a deal that would literally eliminate half of our income with the stroke of a pen,” said Julie Edwards-Sanchez, of Edwards Outdoor Advertising.

Edwards-Sanchez could not be reached for additional comment Wednesday.

Other local business owners who spoke during the council meeting said the billboards provide them an effective way to market to local residents.

Some of those who spoke in favor of the proposal, however, said they thought business owners could find other ways to advertise, particularly in the Internet age.

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean, who voted in favor of the agreement, said one of the things she asked be included in the agreement is creation of a small business marketing committee to help out small businesses.

“I feel like, through the committee that we’re forming, we will find other avenues for advertising and the city will do whatever it can, as long as I’m on the City Council, whatever we can to help all small businesses,” she said.

Others criticized the proposed digital billboards, saying they would spoil views, cause light pollution or create a safety hazard by distracting drivers.

Councilman TimBen Boydston asked for the council to take more time to consider the proposal and eventually voted against the item.

“I think it’s bad government and I’m disappointed,” he said.

Boydston cited an array of concerns with the agreement and the potential safety hazard posed by digital billboards. He also said he had not been provided with all the information he needed to make a decision on the proposal.

Those who spoke on behalf of Metro largely dismissed the concerns of protesters. Officials presented studies that showed no direct link between digital billboards and more traffic accidents. They said the luminosity of the billboards would be so low it would have a minimal impact on the surrounding area.

Mayor Laurene Weste abstained from the vote and discussion on the item, saying she lives too close to some billboards to vote on the proposal.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




ricketzz: Posted: February 26, 2014 5:27 a.m.

They have been doing this deal in the dark for 3 years; we got less than 30 days notice and now its done. The public input was an exercise in democracy theater.

scv_donn: Posted: February 26, 2014 7:06 a.m.

As usual, it's not what the people want. It's what the city council wants. Time to vote all these clowns out of office.

dontgetit: Posted: February 26, 2014 7:15 a.m.

Its funny how the opposition speaks in such sweeping generalities about what "the people" want. Well, "the people" elected the City Council that is currently in place to make the best decisions possible for "the people". Ugly signs that make those major corridors look trashy-- being removed is good for "the people". I am sure the Edwards family is receiving dollars, which I would bet is far more than their sign revenue....since many of those signs stay up months and months past date sensitive events- which is good for "those people". The new electronic signs have rules and regulations and will look nice and be up to date with content. THAT is good for "the people"...and finally the city will receive an estimated $600,000 in revenue annually for the signs...THAT is good for "the people". I am confident that the incumbents will not be going anywhere after elections because they have done a good job, as will be evidenced by the vote of "the people".

bartman: Posted: February 26, 2014 7:57 a.m.

Fascism at full bloom in the SCV is what the article title should be. Two government agencies agreeing on something that violates their own policies and takes away free enterprise just to improve their bottom line.

I love the safety hazard/asthetics argument. If that is the best arguement they have, this is a bunch of BS. If a train derails right next to our city streets, those poles are the only thing to protect our citizens. So where is the safety hazard? Yea all us drivers read each and everyone of them as we go speeding by.. Yea right. I couldn't tell you what is on any of them, except for the small businesses that use them by Golden Oak, and I drive by them daily. "aesthetically, are not pleasing" because giant glaring LED lights that increase our carbon footprint are much prettier. For years our city has forced businesses to remove the giant signs and install small ground level "billboard" signs that block drivers views of ingress and egress to the locations. Thats the best they got?

Where are the real issues in this article?
Where is the revenue going to be used?
What projects will it fund?
What are the operating costs?
How many Jobs does this create?
How many jobs are lost?

This is just another in a long string of actions:

City fights a private business on federal land, but lets a government agency break lease agreements with private companies.
Supports water agencies proposals, but denies individuals building permits.
Supports the city purchasing land, but denies companies from opening businesses in SCV.

Tree City USA just became fascist USA. We will not allow free enterprise to exist when we want to control the revenue. We will break lease agreements to get our way. This is reminiscent of Corporate CEO's electing pay raises for them selves. There is not checks and balances here. Public opinion is no longer considered for some of these council people. The motion should have included a citywide vote. Thankfully we have an election coming up for city council instead.

Before87: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:02 a.m.

"Metro largely dismissed such concerns" Give your lawyer there phone number
when you get rear ended

This is a gateway from everything south of the city.Looking back we should
have let them build the dump.The only thing missing now is the smell.

dontgetit Sounds like you have a warm place in somebodys pocket. --edited.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:04 a.m.

Yet another "SHOW" from this city council. They just let people vent, pretend to care, and then do what they have already decided months ago. This happens time and time again. What an embarrassment and a middle finger to local business.

Vote out Weste and McClean. Clean up the council already, enough is enough!!!

Baddog1: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:16 a.m.

Pretty much, any time there is a chance for the city to vote on more money, regardless of the situation, it will be a "Yes" vote. The people rarely have an opinion that matters.

samed: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:23 a.m.

dontgetit's name is obvious. They like the city council "Do Not Get It".

An argument of "Ugly signs that make those major corridors look trashy-"
is one thing. Stating the "electronic signs.... will look nice "
shows they are just as moronic as our City Council.

The present City Council voted for the monstrosity of the Newhall Library. In their own words "they did not know how big it was".
Well, they will state the same about the ugly huge ugly electronic billboards that will bring down our entire Santa Clarita Valley.

Hopefully, they will be saying those words after being voted out of City Hall.

A BIG THANK YOU TO TIM BEN for supporting small business and the citizens of Santa Clarita. The rest of you can GTH.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:30 a.m.

I hope the digital billboards become a prime target for vandals.

Before87: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:40 a.m.


Maybe we could leave some paint cans and BB guns at the base.

Oh wait the signs will be 80 feet in the air.

scvforall: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:40 a.m.

TimBen is the only one on the Council who is logical and votes with his mind, not his wallet. It is beyond time for the twins to leave. They seem to have one brain between them.

Now is the time! We must vote them out. Why did Mrs. Weste excuse herself for conflict of interest. Does she own part of the electronic billboard company? or the land adjacent to the signs? It's very important we find out why!!!

If there wasn't an election soon, I'd be thinking recall, on the grounds of stupidity.

OldReliable: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:42 a.m.

I am delighted that many SCV billboards will be removed and if the few new digital billboards become problematic I'm certain it would be addressed. Certainly, Newhall's back-in parking was revisited.

BBennetts: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:49 a.m.

Now Geico will have yet another place to advertise. Our local small businesses were able to advertise on these small billboards for around $500 per month. Rates to advertise on these mega Las Vegas monstrosities start at $8,000 per month. But that's OK, local businesses will get a 15% discount (per the agreement). Could our city council be more out of touch?

BBennetts: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:52 a.m.

Revisit what? This is a 50 YEAR multi million dollar deal. You think if it doesn't look good the city can just 're-stripe' this like back in parking? With this much money at stake, these are permanent.

chefgirl358: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:52 a.m.

I hate this city council! I showed up at the meeting last night and there must have been close to 200 people there, and the vast majority from what I could tell were deeply against putting up the digital billboards. I couldn't stay for most of the meeting, but filled out a registered comment card voicing my displeasure at the proposal.

I don't care one way or the other about whether the old billboards are removed or not, I don't particularly like them, but I almost never see them as I don't travel where they mostly are at. I question their importance in this day and age. I personally have NEVER solicited any kind of business based on a billboard advertisement. Actually in recent years I have bought literally probably 3 or 4 dozen Groupons and Living Social deals, those are the modern way of bringing in business I think. I also am a big user of Yelp, I always read and leave reviews for new businesses I check out.

What I am opposed to, is the installation of those hideous digital billboards. Even though I KNEW our idiot council would go ahead with it anyway against the majority of public opinion, it still never ceases to surprise me as to what self serving idiots they are. Los Angeles is probably the worst bureaucratic, most poorly run large city anywhere, and even they had the good common sense to ban and get rid of digital billboards AND red light cameras! Our city council...not so much, they seem to get stupider every year.

I can't wait to move out of this city, I've really grown to hate it here.

michael: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:57 a.m.

At last nights meeting Marsha threatened to clear the room, now it is time for us to clear the council and install new people. Kellar has become too friendly with the business community and he seems to be driven by their wishes. The Acura King must be really happy today because he will be able to have his face on very large billboards along the freeways. Let's boycott is Acura business and any other business that use these billboards. They use the board and we don't buy local. Marshland and Waste need to go.

Unreal: Posted: February 26, 2014 9:02 a.m.

Wow, I am now changing my mind about who I will vote for next time out.
I used to be able to vote when I was living in Sand Canyon and voted for most of the council that are still there.

Now my new house is annexed into the city so I can vote against the people I voted for the last time. I was with you all the way up to this vote. You knew how most of the people in this valley felt and you did it anyway.

You are dead to me.

Now I know how the people who voted for Obama must feel watching him try to erode out Constitution. We get what we voted for.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 26, 2014 9:07 a.m.

Weste and McClean need to leave with their tails between their legs like former Mayor Laurie Ender. We did it before, we can do it again. We need to narrow the field of candidates though so they don't dilute all of our votes. A field of 13 candidates plays right into the hands of the incumbents. We need to be focused on getting these two opportunists out of here.

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

As I said last night.. This Council has double standards. They amend ordinances, change zoning, SCARY. What will these 4 people do next. They are elected officials who DO NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE.. VOTE THEM OUT. That's "no bull".

DavePutnam: Posted: February 26, 2014 9:42 a.m.

I had the displeasre of watching most of last night's meeting. If you ever need to give anyone a definition of Kabuki Theater, you only need to point them to the a recording from last night. I'm so glad we have the opportunity to remove two of the nit-wits who are attempting to get re-elected.

Baddog1: Posted: February 26, 2014 9:49 a.m.

Here is an account of last nights meeting from iheartscv, all of you should read this that were not at the meeting. Very interesting.

Dazzled: Posted: February 26, 2014 10:30 a.m.

THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL! Cutting down all of those 120 billboards is great for our city.
We are DAZZLED to know our city can get rid of blight and make our streets prettier. Just another step in making sure we never look like the San Fernando Valley!
(Just my opinion, please don't attach me because I don't share yours!)

Unreal: Posted: February 26, 2014 11:03 a.m.

There are other ways to get rid of billboards. The city should have kept buying them and taking them down as before. No need to sell our souls to get rid of them. It was not a case or either or. Advertising on bus stops was a good idea and gave local companies an advertising chance.

I have seen these giant lit, blinking, garish billboards down south on the freeway. They look tacky and awful. They do not advertise things you would like to see advertised in our valley.

Unreal: Posted: February 26, 2014 11:27 a.m.

And by the way, these signs won't affect me as I live up Bouquet Cyn. I try not to even go on the freeway and consider everything not SCV as
"over the hill".

But I was concerned for others who live close to these signs and will have a permanent view from their homes. Too bad the city council only cares about some of the people.

So much for "protecting the ridge line".

dontgetit: Posted: February 26, 2014 11:59 a.m.

If someone didn't take the time to educate themselves on reality you would think that the incumbents running for re-election were monsters.

I am NOT in someone's back pocket as stated by someone here...I am literally a normal, educated and concerned SCV citizen who has lived here for more than 40 years, who is very involved and pays attention.

One of the most truthful things I have hear Frank Ferry say in a recent interview was "the brightest and the best aren't running for the open seat because they don't want this can be brutal. For the $1400 bucks, who needs it"....and I believe that is correct.

A very small minority of the population, yet what would seem like a majority because they pack the council chambers, show up and scream and yell at the council, name call, insult and attack...for sometimes hours on end because THEY don't agree...and of course unless you agree you are wrong....

I don't agree with everyone of them every time either, but I don't attack---unlike the culture of this group.

I'm glad the billboard issue is done...the corridors will look better, the city makes money and we are moving into the digital age with the rest of the world....makes sense.

Vtown123: Posted: February 26, 2014 12:17 p.m.

Why does the city council even bother with a public hearing? Why not just send an email to residents informing them of what they decided?

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 26, 2014 12:17 p.m.

dontgetit: This is a very self-serving city council and they will finally be replaced, thanks to the appropriate outrage.

"Educate themselves on reality?" Because you don't agree? Very arrogant statement.

Unreal: Posted: February 26, 2014 12:25 p.m.

Remember this only gets rid of the billboards along the railroad tracks.

Something else nice for those city council members who live in Newhall.

We have now ruined the scenic look when you enter our town. Our identity has been sold. Our vistas are ruined.

Thank you city council for the 3 double sided, (6 faces) glaring, blinking,
signs. You sold us out for less than the cost of two of our homes value.
I am sure some of the homes will have their value lowered. You should know how that works Bob Keller. Areas where billboards go down, value goes up, areas where these electric monsters go up, values go down.

lars1: Posted: February 26, 2014 3:03 p.m.

The majority does not matter. 25 comments dont like the digital billboards, and 3 like them and want more $$$$ for the city. We know they are just city workers getting more $$$ to weste.

Tim Ben, for your support you will be the new mayor in April. Weste (present temporary mayor) and McLean (temporary mayor pro tem) will be voted out for their dishonesty and deceit.

Weste increased our taxes hundreds-thousands to pay for the chloride scam. The deceitful mClean is dishonest.
reelectmarshamclean does not have a recent picture.
There was a picture of her being around 30, but someone must have read my comments and replaced it with her being 50.
you can check it out with
santaclaritacitybriefs for May 2013 has her real picture of an 80 year old.
Way too old to understand what is going on.

bobforte: Posted: February 26, 2014 8:28 p.m.

Funny how the city worked so hard to remove all the pole signs before and now they are letting them back. Money talks.

Personally I don't care that they are taking signs out and putting new ones in. I just love reading how everyone thinks it will cause accidents and that we will look like Las Vegas.

blight: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:21 p.m.

The Gateway to Santa Clarita will now welcome hundreds of thousands of drivers every day to electronic billboard city. Rather than be welcomed home to a pleasant view of the Valley I will be greeted by one of the largest electronic billboards ever built anywhere. I don't think I have ever seen a billboard as large as the ones they are proposing. This is such a disgrace that the city taxes me for open space and center divider landscaping and then approves this.

Someone please start a recall campaign against the ones not up for re-election. I don't have the time, but I will gladly throw in a few hundred dollars towards the campaign. Check out the secretary of state for information on how to do it.

cms96: Posted: February 27, 2014 10:08 p.m.

I am trying to remember if I've ever seen these billboards in areas in which SCV wants to emulate. Let me see, Pasadena nope, Mission Viejo nope, Santa Barbara no way, San Marino, not one, Oh wait, there's Inglewood, Palmdale, Lancaster......

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 6:35 a.m.


Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 6:39 a.m.

dontgetit: We are vocal, and most likely to vote every time. Congratulations, you have taken a loyal citizen and turned me against the city council with this short sighted and bonehead move. Our city will never be the same. We are now as cms96: on par with Inglewood.

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 6:46 a.m.

I wonder if we can sue to stop this and drag it out until a new city council is elected. Maybe use the premise that it is against the city law on signage?

ricketzz: Posted: February 27, 2014 7:21 a.m.

Those delightful pictures above do not show the "blight" across Railroad Avenue from the newly beautified flood plain. Removing those signs will not help anyone but the people who are going to build condos in the creek.

lars1: Posted: February 27, 2014 7:45 a.m.

Very dishonest city! You show the present signs photoshopped out, why dont you show the ugly new signs photoshopped in. Please give us a nighttime view.

What are the effects on small business?
Will the ugly electronic billboards project a negative first impression of santa clarita that the public is stating?

Oh, we dont care about small business or public input.
You elected us. We do whatever we want.

Like I said before, the city government and city council members, weste and mclean, are very dishonest and deceitful. There will be accountability.

The approval of backin parking in newhall, single lane on decoro, overbuilt expensive library, unnecessary roundabout and stupid art projects, and now the approval of ugly electronic billboards have not gone unnoticed.

Thank you unreal. Originally you were so pro city council, now you and everyone else has realized that our city council only votes for the special interests who fund their campaigns. Big Business and Developers!

michaelmyers: Posted: February 27, 2014 8:43 a.m.

Can't we just drag them out to a public square and quarter them. I think that'll prove a point. And start with the two old broads.

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 8:49 a.m.

lars1: You are right. The Signal should be giving both sides not just a shill for the city. They should photo shop one that shows exactly where and how big these signs are.

The citizens should be able to vote for something that affects the entire community. Votes by just a few council members for something like this is not kosher. This changes the look of our entire community.

You are right, I used to be for the council but they are making it impossible to stay with them. This was the last straw.

These signs are tacky and low class. --edited.

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:04 a.m.

Really, don't we have an attorney out there who can file a suit to slow this down until April when we can vote to get rid of the council members?

OldReliable: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:17 a.m.

I agree with the comments by Dazzled. I favor eradicating blight.

elfkin: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:48 a.m.

I agree with OldReliable. I favor eradicating blight too. Dump the two incumbents.

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:53 a.m.

OldReliable: Wouldn't you prefer to keep buying up billboards and taking them down without caving into these monster blinking, glaring, signs affecting many of your neighbors? We did not have to do this to get rid of the billboards.

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:56 a.m.

elfkin: Ha Ha

michael: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:58 a.m.

What will be done to clean up the walking blight currently existing in Old Town Newhall? Millions spent to create a slum! Waste and Marshland need to go! Thank the lord Ferry quit officially! He has not earned his pay check for a long time!

michael: Posted: February 27, 2014 9:59 a.m.

To the Signal. Please be sure to show the before and after images once the monster billboards are in place. Thanks.

samed: Posted: February 27, 2014 11:18 a.m.

I hope the City Council members up for reelection are reading this column.
Counting the commenters. 40 are against and only 6 are for the billboard decision made by Weste and McLean.

Dont be too upset when the blight at City Hall is voted out in April. The majority of people here have negative opinions of you.

To Dazzled and dontgetit as ardent supporters of the City's decision to get rid of blight by eliminating billboards in the city, how about the crappy abandoned house that is sitting next to the Metrolink Station on Soledad. The billboards are nostalgic, but that house is just a piece of garbage.


Please respond and defend with excuses the city has for permitting it to be that way for many years,
or shut up with your BS comments of the City eliminating blight.

stray: Posted: February 27, 2014 11:55 a.m.

OK... Now you lost another vote from me Weste and McLean!

You are now numbah 10 in my books.

Me thinks it's "Bye bye" come this next election! It's time to clear out the swamp one by one!

Unreal: Posted: February 27, 2014 12:26 p.m.

This could also cause an issue with some filming in the SCV. They will have to make sure where they shoot does not catch these monster signs in the background.

cj64: Posted: February 28, 2014 5:31 p.m.

Thank you City Council for getting rid of the billboards,
and replacing them with the huge electronic billboards along the Freeway..
ie "The Look of Las Vegas".

I have purchased 200 box trucks, and will start selling advertising space on the sides of the trucks to local businesses starting in July.
They will only be driven around the City of Santa Clarita on the weekends, from 8am to 5pm. Local commuter/worker traffic will not be effected.

The advertising rates will be comparable to the billboards that you decided to take down. I have decided to pursue this perfectly legal business opportunity after the City COuncil decided that they wanted the look of Las Vegas.

cj64: Posted: February 28, 2014 5:54 p.m.

Here is one of my competitors.

Oh, Tilted Kilt will be my first customer!
They want to start this month with 5 trucks driving around the City.

The City permits this type of mobile billboard advertising. Drive by Creekside near the Post Office and see the SMOG vans permanently parked on the street. The City permits this advertising. My trucks are much much larger than the SMOG VANS. --edited.

BBennetts: Posted: March 1, 2014 9:02 p.m.

They want Las Vegas, give them Las Vegas:

Maybe we can set up a deal with the local massage places here.

lars1: Posted: March 1, 2014 11:02 a.m.

BBennetts, you are on the right track.

The people in Stevenson Ranch west of the 5,
are really going to like the electronic billboards approved by the city.

I have heard that the closed Beef OBradys restaurant on the Old Road
will soon have a new tenant. My understanding is that there will be a
"HOOTERS" restaurant open by late this summer.
At night, lights will flash on the GIANT OO's of Hooters.

Thank you Ferry, Kellar, Weste and McLean for turning our fine city into a dump. --edited.

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