Digital billboard gets OK in Downey

DOWNEY - A 55-foot tall, LED billboard will rise high alongside the I-5 Freeway and residential neighborhoods this year after the Downey Planning Commission last Wednesday agreed a digital billboard could provide financial gain for the city with minimal impact to surrounding areas. The proposed sign, which would sit on a nine-acre maintenance yard owned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority at 7878 Telegraph Road, will be the first such billboard in Downey off the Santa Ana Freeway.

City officials granted applicant Allvision, LLC a conditional use permit, which approved the sign's location, and a code variance, which allows the billboard more square footage on its two displays and an extra 20 feet in height.

Commissioners also voted in favor of a development agreement with Metro, who is now expected to oversee the construction and operation of the sign, which is 475 feet away from adjacent residential homes.

While the agreement allows Metro to operate the "V"-shaped billboard without further discretionary review, the city will receive a development fee of $80,000 every year, or 25 percent of the sign's net revenue.

The city will also be afforded the right to advertise on the billboard, which will not display ads for tobacco or other adult purposes.

If approved by the City Council, the development agreement will remain valid for 20 years, with the possibility of a one-time, 10-year extension.

However, some nearby residents are unhappy with the decision, protesting the LED billboard, which they believe may negatively impact the aesthetics of their neighborhood, potentially reducing their property values.

"I am concerned about this new sign that may be installed in my neighborhood at 7878 Telegraph Road," said Downey resident Mitch Collier. "This sign would be a major distraction to my lifestyle as well as my neighbors.

"It would be a major lowering of my enjoyment of life as well as the value of my property to have this code violation sign shining into my window 24/7 as well as when I go out to my back yard to entertain guests," he said.

City officials acknowledge that the billboard will be visible from several homes in the area, but maintain the sign will emit no noises, feature no offensive advertisements, and its lights will be lowered at night to mitigate any negative impacts on local residents.

"Staff is of the opinion that the proposed sign is a high quality design that will blend with the project site," said senior planner David Blumenthal in a staff report. "Furthermore, since the property owner will be paying an annual development fee for the sign, this approval will contribute to the fiscal balance of the city."

Once completed, digital images on the proposed billboard will pause for eight seconds before cycling to the next image, city staff said. The sign will receive maintenance two to six times a year.

********** Published: June 27, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 11