San Diego Union-Tribune - In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the La Mesa City Council ended efforts to bring digital billboards to the city alongside Interstate 8 near Grossmont Center.
The decision follows months of backlash from community members opposed to the proposal.
Organizers from the grassroots group against the proposal — Keep La Mesa Beautiful — say their efforts have garnered nearly 2,000 petition signatures.
Community members over the past few months, including during Tuesday’s meeting, voiced concerns over safety issues, fearing the lights would make driving at night more difficult and add an eyesore alongside the freeway.
Public records search by ECM finds 1,805 accidents, including 20 fatalities and 673 injuries from 2018 to the present
By Miriam Raftery
October 12, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – On Sept. 27, the La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 to ask staff to prepare a request for proposals to erect electronic billboards along Interstate 8 and potentially, other areas in the city, with only Councilman Jack Shu voting against the proposal. Shu and other opponents argued that these could distract drivers, particularly near the interchange of I-8 and State Route 125.
How dangerous is that area already?
To find out, East County Magazine obtained public records from California Highway Patrol. We requested data on accidents along I-8 east and west throughout the city of La Mesa from Lake Murray Blvd. on the west to Chase Ave. in El Cajon, since one billboard site would be near the La Mesa/El Cajon boundary. We also asked for data on accidents on onramps connecting I-8 and SR 125.
The data reveals that from Jan. 1, 2018 to Oct. 10, 2023, there were 1,805 accidents in those locations.
Those accidents resulted in 20 fatalities and 673 injuries.
The vast majority of those occurred on I-8. On I-8 west alone, there were 1,000 crashes, resulting in 5 fatalities and 383 injuries. On I-8 east, there 642 crashes, including 8 fatalities and 233 injuries.
Don Wood, a vocal opponent of the proposed e-billboards, told ECM, “I’m not surprised,” by this data. He added, “There are numerous lane changes in the vicinity merging in that section…so it’s not surprising that we would have many accidents in that stretch. Adding flashing digital billboards showing thousands of different advertisements daily would only add to the confusion and distraction. This is San Diego, where we have a lot of drivers who are drunk, drugged and distracted.”
Read the full article online at eastcountymagazine.org/how-dangerous-area-where-la-mesa-seeks-erect-digital-billboards.
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.
Despite receiving hundreds of messages in opposition, the San Diego City Council voted Tuesday, 7:2, to proceed with digital ad kiosks. Thanks to Councilmembers Joe LaCava and Vivian Moreno for voting "No!" Scenic San Diego is hopeful an organization defending the public's best interests will mount a legal challenge to this abandonment of San Diego's historic role fighting outdoor advertising blight. Many thanks to everyone who voiced their opposition. Updates to follow.
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.