A three-judge panel handed a major defeat Thursday to an advertising company that had sought to invalidate the city’s prohibition on new digital billboards in Los Angeles.
Baton Rouge, La.-based Lamar Central Outdoor had challenged the city’s 2002 sign ordinance, which bars new billboards from being approved outside of designated sign districts. The law also prohibits existing billboards from being converted to digital formats.
A Superior Court judge sided with Lamar, saying the city’s restrictions on “off-site signs” -- those that advertise products not available for purchase at the sign’s location -- violate the state Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.
City Atty. Mike Feuer hailed the ruling, saying it reaffirmed the power of cities across California to control the proliferation of new billboards.
“Had the court ruled in the other direction, we would have seen an uncontrolled avalanche of billboards erected throughout the city of Los Angeles,” he said.
Representatives of Lamar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lamar’s legal action had raised the prospect that those signs could return.
In its lawsuit, the company had demanded that city officials give it permission to convert 45 of its signs in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Tarzana and other communities into much more lucrative electronic formats.
The firm also donated billboard space for five other council candidates, all of whom won their respective races.
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