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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mark Leno: End Illegal Amnesty (for Billboards)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 8:59 AM

click to enlarge Perhaps it's time to go, pal
  • Perhaps it's time to go, pal
Did you know that it's currently against the law for a California city to remove an illegal billboard -- provided said billboard has been in place (again, illegally) for five years without showing up on law-enforcement's radar? Who knew that, in a state where so many folks get worked up into a lather over so-called "amnesty" for actual human beings, we'd have a de-facto amnesty program for the billboards hawking us personal injury lawyers, food products, or laxatives?

San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno is against amnesty (for billboards), and yesterday announced he has introduced a bill to get those damn illegals out of our state.

"Our current laws imply that a billboard is legal simply because it has been up for a long time, making it difficult, if not impossible, to enforce regulations that are designed to protect California's communities from visual blight," he said. Currently, he continued, billboard companies "ignore existing codes in order to maximize their profits. Senate bill 690 will help ensure that billboards across the state are in compliance with local and state laws."

Leno said the "Outdoor Advertising Act" would eliminate nonsensical provisions such as the five-year rule and streamline the process allowing cities to remove advertising displays that are altered following their placement in a manner not allowed by initial permitting -- and punish companies that do so. The bill's sponsor, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, said billboard companies violate state law "with virtual impunity" largely because no one is looking at billboards -- from the legal community, anyway. L.A. -- all 468 square miles of it, complete with 10,000 billboard-type displays -- has six sign inspectors. San Francisco has three.

SB 690 could be heard in a Senate committee as early as next month -- and you can expect the billboard companies will not be going gentle into that good night on this issue. You can read the bill's full text here.   

Photo   |   Marlith

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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