The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a temporary ban Wednesday on new billboards. The ban will last three months while the city attorney and planning department draft permanent changes to L.A.'s sign ordinances.

The council originally passed a ban in 2002, but lawsuits on free-speech issues rendered it unenforceable.

"Enforcement of billboard regulations has been extremely frustrating," said Councilman Jack Weiss, who co-sponsored the new ban. "Today's action will allow the city to take control of this issue immediately, stop new billboards right now, and fix the city's laws for the long term."

City officials have been struggling for years to properly regulate billboards, which have proliferated throughout the city, often without permits. The controversy has come to a head as brightly lit digital billboards have increasingly encroached on residential areas.

The council earlier this month voted to re-authorize a billboard inspection program that will charge fees to outdoor advertising companies. The Off-Site Signs Periodic Inspection Program will be handled by the Department of Building and Safety. The inspections will allow the department to compile an inventory of both legal and illegal billboards throughout the city.

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