Wheels Come Off L.A.’s Mobile Billboard Ban

Wheels Come Off L.A.’s Mobile Billboard Ban
Lone Star’s Bruce Boyer.

A ban on mobile billboards in the city of Los Angeles took effect Jan. 1, but the company that has the most mobile signs has already found a way to get around the law.

The ban, sponsored by Councilman Dennis Zine, defines a mobile billboard as an advertising display attached to a wheeled, mobile, nonmotorized vehicle. The ban prohibits such signs from being parked on city streets.

So Bruce Boyer, head of Lone Star Security & Video in Reseda, is mounting his signs on motorized vehicles. Also, he’s taking the wheels off and replacing them with runners, converting them into sleighs.

Boyer said he will place the signs on flatbed trucks and drive them to their curbside locations. Or he could even tow them, letting them skid along on their runners.

Lone Star advertises its alarm-monitoring service on about 30 billboards parked around Los Angeles, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. Boyer estimated that there are about 170 other signs of the same type around the city.

“This is the most cost-effective form of advertising this company has ever found,” Boyer told the Business Journal.

The curbside signs have proliferated in Zine’s San Fernando Valley district, which has miles of major thoroughfares with unmetered parking.

Mobile billboards “are a public safety hazard that impairs the visibility of motorists and pedestrians, reduce precious parking locations and create visual blight,” Zine said. “I will do everything in my power to eradicate them from the streets of Los Angeles.”

The councilman said the city had a law on the books banning the signs, but a state law required that cities post warning signs in order to enforce it. That made the ban impractical given the miles of streets in Los Angeles.

But a new state law, sponsored by the city of Los Angeles and passed by the Assembly in late September, allows cities to ban the signs without posting warnings. The Los Angeles City Council passed a ban after the state law was adopted. Both the state law and the city ban went into effect Jan. 1.

Zine said officials in West Hollywood have contacted him about enacting a similar ban in their city, and he believes other cities will follow.

“I support local businesses and their right to advertise,” Zine said. “But they need to find an alternate method that does not endanger public safety and does not contribute to the degradation of the community they seek to do business in.”

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