Beach Ads Get Green Light as a Way to Boost Revenue

Times Staff Writer

An urgency ordinance that could significantly expand advertising on Los Angeles County beaches was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, but not before Supervisor Kenneth Hahn won a ban on the promoting of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

Victor Adorian, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, acknowledged that his representatives have been negotiating with a beer company, among others, to place advertising on the beaches this summer as part of a budget-boosting concept approved last year by the board.

But Hahn, whose vote was needed for passage of the ordinance on an urgency basis, said the county spends “millions of dollars trying to rehabilitate the alcoholics. For us to be in the business of encouraging and promoting alcoholic products and tobacco products, to me, is bad public policy.”

Board Chairman Ed Edelman was absent, and four of the five supervisors’ votes are needed to approve an urgency ordinance, which bypasses normal hearing procedures and takes effect immediately. Only three votes are normally needed, but non-urgency ordinances do not take effect for 30 days.


Supervisor Deane Dana, who represents the coastal area, said the urgency ordinance was necessary to get the advertising program going this summer season. “We’re in desperate shape for revenues in this county,” Dana said.

Magnets for Young People

Hahn, who blocked passage of the ordinance last week when it first was proposed by Dana, told The Times he was particularly concerned about such advertising because the beaches are magnets for young people.

Adorian said the advertising, when fully implemented, could generate up to $1 million in new revenues for operation of the beaches. The effort is a high-profile example of the push by the conserative majority of the board--Supervisors Pete Schabarum, Dana and Michael Antonovich--to develop revenue-generating partnerships with private industry.


County officials insist that the advertising will be done in good taste and will not turn the beaches into a “Coney Island,” as Hahn warned at one point. Billboards will be not allowed on the beaches, but smaller advertising signs could sprout on lifeguard towers, walls, directional signs, trucks, rescue boats and even employee uniforms.

The only advertising now permitted is on donated trash cans and some lifeguard trucks. The size and location of the new signs would have to be approved by the board as part of each advertising contract.

The advertising could appear on beaches stretching from San Pedro to Malibu. Beaches in Long Beach are operated by that city.