The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed a major victory to the city of Los Angeles on Wednesday in its fight against the proliferation of unpermitted billboards, reversing a federal judge’s ruling that struck down a ban on new supergraphics, billboards and freeway-facing signs.

The panel of three judges found that the City Council did not violate the 1st Amendment right to free speech when it allowed exceptions to its citywide ban. The court also reversed injunctions that blocked the city from seeking the removal of unpermitted signs at nearly 40 locations.

While Wednesday's appellate ruling upheld the city’s efforts to regulate outdoor advertising, it could also reopen the floodgates to a series of new billboard districts. While the case was being battled in court, the council held off on a proposal that allowed for the creation of as many as 21 billboard districts across the city.

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