LAT architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne says the controversy reflects the ineptitude of city officials in regulating signage and not the aesthetics of digital billboards and advertising wraps. Here's a key point:
In truth, the signage controversy is a proxy fight. What's really driving the anger of billboard opponents, particularly in certain parts of the Westside, is a growing sense that the city has become ungovernable, that dense development and other changes to the cityscape are being imposed on their neighborhoods from without and that our mayor remains, on these issues at least, asleep at the switch. In that sense, the idea that billboard growth is an assault on our collective urban-design principles is at best a red herring. This is a place where billboards and other kinds of signage have long aspired to the size and prominence of architecture -- not just the famed Hollywood sign but also the thrillingly tall billboards and other signs on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and the 32-foot-high illuminated letters, spelling out LAX, marking the entrance to the Los Angeles International Airport.
Much of the outrage goes back to 2006 when City Hall lawyers signed off on a settlement allowing more than 800 billboards to be turned into digital signs. But there also are the political contributions, the inability to account for all the billboards in the city, and the blatant refusal of one billboard business to abide by city mandates. Is it any wonder people are ticked off?