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Council takes steps against mobile billboards

March 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Viewers said they were fed up with mobile billboards. One viewer called them an ugly traffic hazard. ABC7 and Los Angeles lawmakers were listening. Wednesday, Los Angeles took a big step toward banning those mobile ads. The city council made it clear it wants to put the brakes on those billboards.Mobile billboards certainly attract attention, and that's why businesses use them. But some say they're ugly and they distract drivers. Now the L.A. City Council wants to impose big fines and is trying to figure out a way to ban them altogether.

The mobile billboards are still popping up all over the place parked on city streets, sometimes for days.

"These are an eyesore. As you may have seen in the video presentation, they're vandalized, the create a problem, obstruction to traffic," said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine.

Zine wants to eliminate them. He says they've tried to restrict them by passing an ordinance banning unhitched trailers, but he says the sign owners ignore it.

ABC7 received a number of e-mails about this saying these signs are bothersome.

"Those businesses have permits to operate in the city of Los Angeles. Is it legal for us to execute any type of citation directly to their businesses?" said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

Wednesday, council members voted to get a new city ordinance that would raise the fines, and the vehicles could be impounded. Also, the state assembly is working on a bill to change the vehicle code.

The City Council on Wednesday ordered the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would ban the ads, which are mounted on trailers, hauled around and dropped off on city streets.

"If it were enacted the way it's written today, it would ban them. It would ban them in the city," said assistant L.A. City Attorney Judy Real.

"If they want to try to stomp on our rights, they're going to find out we're sharp nails -- don't step on us," said Bruce Boyer, owner of Lone Star Security, which operates mobile billboards.

Boyer has been fighting City Hall every step of the way. He has dozens of billboards all over the San Fernando Valley. His is one of several companies that use these mobile ads and he says he has the right to do it, and doesn't care about bigger fines.

"They issue me probably 20 citations a day," said Boyer. "I don't pay a single one of them, whether they're $50 or $10,000, I don't pay them. The vehicle code is very clear: There's no authority to pass ordinances restricting the parking of hitched trailers or unhitched trailers."

But there might be some restrictions very soon because the assembly could pass the bill in the coming months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.