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.
“Yes, money is generally alluring, and we know that desperate times require desperate measures,” resident Janet Castaños said before Tuesday’s vote. “But La Mesa is neither desperate, nor are we willing to sell our souls for the money that will result in additional costs to public safety, lawsuits settlements, lost revenue for local businesses, loss of property values, environmental and health-related issues.”
Throughout the past year, the city council and staff had explored the idea of digital billboards as a way to collect extra funding for the city’s police, fire department and arts programs.
Earlier this year, a proposal from global advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor suggested that digital billboards could have been installed near Grossmont Center in view of drivers along Interstate 8, in addition to several other locations. In addition to advertising revenue from the billboards, the city could have used the digital billboards as a platform to make announcements.
Although the City Council voted 2-3 decision on July 25 to end efforts to pursue digital billboards, the proposal made a comeback at a Sept. 26 meeting when the council voted 4-1 in favor of reconsidering it as a way to fund public art and provide extra funding for public safety.
That vote, solely opposed by Councilmember Jack Shu, directed staff to develop and circulate a request for proposals for digital billboards, which would have only been placed in commercial districts and excluded from La Mesa Downtown Village.
Exactly how much money the city could have received from digital billboards was unknown as the request for proposals from varying advertising companies would have included revenue projections.
Mayor Mark Arapostathis said Tuesday that he and Vice Mayor Laura Lothian decided to end the request for proposals after many people weighed in with their disapproval.
“If this many people don’t like it, probably it’s not something that anyone wants,” he said Tuesday.
Read the full article online at SanDiegoUunionTribune.com/communities/east-county/la-mesa/story/2023-12-13/la-mesa-abandons-pursuit-of-digital-billboards-following-community-backlash
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.