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More digital billboards must go dark, judge says

A judge has invalidated permits for another 19 digital billboards in Los Angeles, adding them to dozens that were struck down last week, a lawyer with City Atty. Carmen Trutanich said.

The ruling, issued Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Terry Green, brings the total number of electronic sign permits that have been revoked to 99, said special assistant city attorney Jane Usher. Of the 99 signs, not all had completed the conversion to digital formats, she said.

Green allowed just two electronic signs to keep operating, both in the San Fernando Valley -- one on Ventura Boulevard in Encino and the other on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills.

Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor, the two companies that own the billboards, have already switched dozens of digital signs off since Green's first ruling last week. But parties in the case have offered different figures on how many are going dark.

Usher said as many as 94 lighted signs are being turned off. A representative for Clear Channel Outdoor put that number at 90, saying some were out of operation before last week's ruling.

The judge's decision has been hailed by neighborhood activists, who describe digital signs as blight. The electronic signs were approved under a 2006 agreement between the Los Angeles City Council and Clear Channel and CBS.

Smaller sign company Summit Media challenged the agreement, calling it a sweetheart deal enacted in violation of the city’s sign rules. Summit is now seeking to have the billboard structures themselves removed, said the company's attorney, Timothy Alger.


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