Just a Thought – Billboards Are a Big, Bad Blight (Click Here and Say No Thanks)

3579169217612599b9ac7618aff8ea13.494x363x1The Culver City City Council Agenda for tonight includes the “Hospitality District” that has the potential to pollute the airspace in  Culver City with one of the most toxic things our culture produces – advertising.

Action Item A-2, (1) Receive a Presentation and Discuss the Proposed Vision for a “Hospitality & Entertainment District Specific Plan” Affecting Commercial Frontage Adjacent to the 405 Freeway Between the Northern and Southern City Boundaries, Including a Signage Component; and (2) Direct the City Manager as Deemed Appropriate.

Click through to read the city staff’s report, and let yourself consider what the south end of town would look like if we let this happen. Tacky? Trashy? Terrible?

This is the second time it’s been before the council, and the third city-sponsored discussion of the topic. It’s problematic for a number of reasons. First, Culver City has an ordinance against billboards. Look around the city and you will find subdued signage that conforms to the civic code, but no over-sized ads taking up the skyline. That’s our current legal standard.

The meeting will be tonight, Monday May 11, 2015 at City Hall. If you’ve never attended a council meeting, it’s simple. Get a speaker card, fill it out and give it to the clerk, and you will get a brief amount of time (2 to 3 minutes) to speak to the council from the podium. If you don’t want billboards, tell them; No Billboards.

Since the ‘hospitality district’ proposal has been a topic of discussion, the rule breakers at Westfield Mall have taken down some of their ‘not in agreement’ billboards advertising movies, and stuck to the language of their exemption – they can have huge signs as long as they are used to advertise items for sale on site in the mall. Movies are – you may have noticed- not on offer at our Westfield/Fox Hills. So putting ads for movies up on those spaces were in violation of their agreement with the city.

The short space of the 405/San Diego Freeway that isn’t polluted with toxic billboard advertising seems too tempting for corporations to leave as is. The issue isn’t just aiming billboards at the freeway; it’s that they are then OUR billboards. But we don’t get to control what they advertise or how. They will just create an affiliation in people’s minds with Culver City/ugly billboards as they drive past us.  If we agree to this, we are no longer part of the solution (blue skies, open space) we are part of the problem.

Can’t make it to City Hall? Send your comments to www.culvercity.org/Information/emailus.aspx?dept_id=38  and the affable Martin Cole, Assistant City Manager, will make sure that your comments are read into the record for the meeting. Do it before 4 pm today. Letting your council know what you think- It’s that easy, and that important.

For those who might cite hypocrisy – Culver City Crossroads does run ads – all of our advertisers are businesses that we can personally recommend, from the Healthy Homes campaign down to the Culver City Symphony. These are all services and products that we think would benefit YOU. Our advertising is completely locally controlled, which the “Hospitality District” would not be. Corporations that have no consideration for the people of Culver City other than the number of cars they can estimate are driving by on Sepulveda Boulevard or the freeway and how they can charge for that will be selling your airspace, and your right to blue sky.

Commerce is critical to civic life. But selling off the right to oversized corporate advertising is a huge mistake.


The Actors' Gang


  1. Please do not allow billboards that sell corporate products along Culver City’s boulevards. Billboards blatantly distract all (dangerously so in high traffic areas) and interfere with the recognition of the neighborhood’s unique charms and characteristics, including its small businesses.

    Commercial billboards create a visual assault that, together with the increasing jet noise volume, create a toxic environment far from Culver City’s idyllic landscape.

  2. I agree. Additional billboards will be a blight on our city’s landscape. And it’s not right for this council, or any council, to commit our city to this path just to make a few unspecified dollars.

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