By Miriam Raftery
September 28,2023 (La Mesa) – Last night, the La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 to ask staff to prepare a revised RFP (request for proposals) for digital billboards, with Councilman Jack Shu opposed.
The action reverse a July 25 vote, when Council rejected a similar proposal by a 3-2 vote. The major difference? The new plan would provide that any revenues the city receives off digital billboards for the first five years would be spent equally on police, fire protection, and the arts, said Councilman Colin Parent, who introduced the revised measure.
Several people showed up before the meeting with protest signs, such as “Keep digital billboards out of La Mesa,” though some others spoke in support.
The city attorney explained that the current municipal code prohibits electronic billboards, so before Council could approval and proposal that the RFP might elicit, Council would have to amend the municipal code. The state law prohibits new billboards, so only replacement of existing billboards could occur. The federal Highway Beautification Act would also apply.
Councilmember Patricia Dillard peppered the city attorney with questions, revealing that Cal Trans prohibits advertising on billboards on landscaped property maintained by Cal Trans.”The whole point is revenues. If we can’t do advertising, that’s a deal breaker,”she said.
The city attorney indicated the RFP would require any proposals to demonstrate compliance with city, state and federal laws. Dilllard responded this seems like putting “the cart before the horse.” She also asked for safety data, but the attorney said that data would be requested as part of the RFP process, then come back to the council for public vetting.
During public comments, speakers were sharply divided on the issue.
Opponents cited concerns ranging from safety to aesthetics.
Paul Krueger urged Council to reject any efforts to move forward on digital billboards. He lives in San Diego near near SDSU. He objects to electronic billboards and kiosks as “garish and unsafe.” He called on the Council to find other sources of funding for public safety and the arts.
Read the full article online at eastcountymagazine.org/la-mesa-revives-heated-debate-over-digital-billboards.
We need your help to prevent the approval of new, illegal digital billboards in La Mesa!
The La Mesa City Council will be meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, September 26, to once again discuss the issue of digital billboards. This is after the City Council voted 3-2 not to support new digital billboards! We must tell the City Council not to go back on their prior vote, and insist that they listen to the community!
In addition to being illegal by letter of the law, the proposal presents several other issues:
Click here to view the meeting agenda and information on how to attend. The digital billboard discussion is item 10.2 on the agenda.
Scenic San Diego is an all-volunteer coalition of concerned citizens and organizations who favor strong sign ordinances and oppose billboards and other advertising sign proliferation.