Burbank bans vehicles used mainly for advertising

The brightly colored vans advertising “Topless Maids $99" caused a stir in Burbank last year when they were seen parked on city streets for days on end, prompting officials to publicly denounce them as eyesores and visual blight.

Last week, the City Council voted to ban vehicles whose main purpose is advertising. There are some exemptions, such as pizza and mail delivery vehicles.

“What we’re capturing with this ordinance is those signs that are bolted to a van, leaned against a van, trailers that are unhitched and left in the public right of way,” Deputy City Planner Patrick Prescott said at Tuesday’s meeting.


Senior Assistant City Atty. Joe McDougall said the ordinance is “viewpoint neutral” and does not regulate the content on the mobile advertising vehicles.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s puppy adoption, political ads or topless maids,” McDougall said, adding that the ordinance merely centers on the design of the ad and whether the vehicle is used primarily for advertising.

Vans and trucks with plywood billboards bolted to the exterior also pose safety risks, officials said.

“Is that going to fall into the street while someone is driving or riding in a bicycle past?” Prescott said.

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Councilman David Gordon cast the sole dissenting vote, arguing that the penalties were too harsh, especially for out-of-towners who probably won’t be familiar with the rule.