West Hollywood Billboard Taxes and Regulation, Measure WH-A (March 2011)
The Tax Billboard Initiative, if it had been approved by the city's voters, would have:
- Amended West Hollywood’s zoning code to allow tall wall signs on Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood.
- Allowed tall wall signs without a discretionary permit from West Hollywood.
- Imposed a 7% tax on advertising revenue received from the lease of any billboard, video sign tall wall or other off-site advertising sign.
Supporters of the initiative estimated that it would generate $4.2 million a year in added revenue for West Hollywood.
8899 Beverly Boulevard Tall Wall has been a client of Skytag. A federal court ordered that a Tall Wall sign on 8899 Beverly be removed, after a 7-year court battle.
Opponents of the Tax Billboard Act said that it was a "Trojan Horse" initiative that under the guise of imposing a new tax that will increase the city's revenues, was actually designed to make it easier for corporate interests to erect tall wall signs with considerably less oversight from the city than is currently the case.
A group called "Concerned Neighbors Against Illegal Billboards" formed to fight against the initiative.
According to the group:
- "Concerned Neighbors and residents throughout West Hollywood now understand that Skytag’s ballot measure’s true intention is to place illegal and unsafe supergraphics on Santa Monica and Beverly Boulevards and are not fooled by the deceptive title of the ballot measure."
Genevieve Morrill, President of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, is opposed to Measure A. She says, "Business owners throughout West Hollywood are opposed to this shameful attempt to legalize illegal billboards through a convoluted and deceptive ballot measure. This measure is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing."
City council member Jeffrey Prang said that Measure A will "allow some building owners automatic rights to install tall walls and other signage that they currently cannot install without going through an approval and permitting process...[The initiative] is really just a corporate scam and an abuse and misuse of the initiative system. It's a company paying money to get something on the ballot and it's allegedly a public benefit. I think the benefit is untrue and the mission is clearly selfish. I think the people in West Hollywood are smart enough to see through these things."
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Measure WH-A: Shall an Ordinance be adopted (1) imposing a new 7% tax YES on revenue from off-site advertising signs and (2) amending the City's zoning ordinance to allow tall wall advertising signs to be placed on buildings that meet certain criteria on Santa Monica and Beverly Boulevards without discretionary review by the City?|
Path to the ballot
Tax Billboard Act Blocked by West Hollywood City Council
Measure A is an initiated city ordinance. In September 2010, supporters of the initiative submitted 4,142 signatures to the West Hollywood City Clerk’s office. These signatures were sent to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office for verification. That office determined that 2,744 of the signatures were valid. 2,386 signatures were required to compel West Hollywood, which calls itself "The Creative City", to either enact the ordinance or put it on the ballot so that the city's voters could decide its fate.
However, the West Hollywood City Council believed that there were legal issues with the initiative and declined to put it on the ballot. Specifically, the city council believes that the proposed ordinance:
- Violates the single-subject rule.
- Deviates from the city's General Plan.
- Violates the First Amendment.
- "Is fraught with inaccuracies"
Once it was learned by the initiative's supporters that the city was declining to put Measure A before the voters of the city, they filed a lawsuit asking that the court order the city to hold an election on Measure A.
On December 8, 2010, Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones issued a writ ordering the city to put Measure A on the ballot.
- Official website of the City of West Hollywood
- Website of the "Tax Billboard Act"
- Complete text of the "Tax Billboard Act"
- Website of Skytag
- West Hollywood Patch, "Billboard Tax Proposes to Bring In $4.2 Million", August 12, 2010
- West Hollywood Daily, "Video: Tax Billboard Act Blocked by Weho City Council", November 22, 2010
- West Hollywood News, "Tax Billboard Act connected to 8899 Beverly Supergraphic", August 2, 2010
- City of West Hollywood, "Court Directs City Clerk to Place "Tax Billboard Act" on Ballot", December 8, 2010