The monster $1-billion project will include a hotel and office tower - both adorned with LED lights that could be used for outdoor advertising going up 10 stories (maybe more). The only critical voice came from Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who wondered why the city couldn't negotiate for a piece of the electronic billboard revenue. Good question, what with the city on the verge of fiscal collapse and all, but the rest of the council was clearly not interested in discussing such matters. This thing has been inching through the city's entitlement process for many months, and the time for cutting deals with the participants (project owner Korean Air and developer Thomas Properties) had long since passed. Naturally, there was a lot of back-slapping about the new jobs that would be created as a result of the project, but job creation is not the same thing as revenue generation (several council members clearly haven't a clue as to the distinction). Besides, the several thousand construction jobs being trumpeted, while a marginal boost to the overall economy, would be short durations and aren't likely to be realized until at least early 2012, perhaps longer (developers have been vague about the timetable). Most clearly, the council wimped out on agreeing to a bed tax waiver for the hotel (losing $80 million in the process), and the prospect of millions of revenue dollars from those outdoor ads. But of course, that would never happen, not with so many council members tied at the hip to the outdoor billboard industry (see LA Weekly piece). From the LAT's David Zahniser:
Opponents of the sign district said they did not oppose the hotel's redevelopment, but said new flashing signs and images would barrage the public and, in some cases, distract motorists. "Digital billboards do not solve the unemployment in the city. Digital billboards will not increase tourism in our city," said Jan Book, a resident of Marina del Rey who voiced exasperation with the digital signs that are located near her home. The sign district for the Wilshire Grand project is so complicated that it is divided into four vertical levels and three geographic subsections. While some lighted signs will change every eight seconds, others will change every four minutes. Other sections will feature streaming text.