Council Considers a Billboard Boast

In an effort to boost tourism, the Ventura City Council has agreed to study a proposal to erect a freeway-facing billboard on city-owned land near Johnson Drive and the northbound lanes of the Ventura Freeway.

The billboard would tout the city's amenities as a tourist destination.

The council voted unanimously to study the proposal, even though city regulations strictly prohibit billboard signs.

The city has not allowed a billboard to be built in 15 years, Community Services Director Everett Millais said.

But tourism officials say the new sign would cost the city nothing and would generate $9,000 a year in new revenue.

"It is a win for the sign company and a win for the visitors bureau," Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau Director Bill Clawson told the council Monday night. Under a conceptual agreement, the city would share the sign with Martin Communications, which would pay the city $9,000 a year to lease one side of the billboard.

In exchange for building the new sign, Martin would change the city's advertisements on the other side of the billboard for free and take down an existing billboard near California 33.

"There would be no net increase of signs for the city," Clawson said.

The Visitors and Convention Bureau--which is funded by the city--currently pays $12,000 a year to advertise on a different billboard facing the northbound lanes of the Ventura Freeway, near the Santa Clara River bridge.

But by entering a lease with Martin, the city could pull down its pricey advertisement and place it on the new billboard at no cost, Clawson said.

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