Honoring CSA’s Legislative Efforts – 30+ Years Proud
Building on legislative success in 1983, which resulted in a requirement that just compensation be paid for compelled removal of on-premise signs, in 1986 – 30 years ago – CSA commenced another extraordinary effort to save signs from removal based on height and size when special topographic circumstances exist.
Under the leadership of Leo March (Integrated Sign) and legal counsel Robert Aran, CSA was able to secure passage of Business & Professions Code section 5499.
Section 5499 provides:
“Regardless of any other provision of this chapter or other law, no city or county shall require the removal of any on-premises advertising display on the basis of its height or size by requiring conformance with any ordinance or regulation introduced or adopted on or after March 12, 1983, if special topographic circumstances would result in a material impairment of visibility of the display or the owner’s or user’s ability to adequately and effectively continue to communicate with the public through the use of the display. Under these circumstances, the owner or user may maintain the advertising display at the business premises and at a location necessary for continued public visibility at the height or size at which the display was previously erected and, in doing so, the owner or user is in conformance.”
Recent Court Rulings: Commercial Speech and the City of Los Angeles
Several recent court rulings reiterate that commercial speech regulations, including signage restrictions based on content, are subject to “heightened scrutiny” evaluation and that government carries the burden of showing that the challenged regulation advances the Government’s interest in a direct and material way. “That burden is not satisfied by mere speculation or conjecture.” Rather, to survive scrutiny “a restriction on commercial speech must demonstrate that the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree.”
Under both California and Federal law, an onsite/offsite distinction is lawful, provided it does not regulate the content of the message, i.e., that differentiating between onsite and offsite signs does not constitute a content-based distinction. In addition, the court succinctly explained and reiterated the longstanding guidance of Central Hudson on how to assess sign regulations. In sum, significantly for the sign industry, the effect is that the status quo has been preserved.
CSA and ISA continue to work diligently with the city to bring finality to this matter. Along the way, CSA, working with the billboard industry, had to fend off legislation proposing a statewide moratorium on digital signs (legislation penned by the current LA city attorney), as well as re-educate several times new council members and staffers, including a new Planning Director. CSA and ISA retained the services of local lobbyists to assist with the endeavor.
What is the Lamar case about – and why is it important?
In the one of the lawsuits, Lamar v. City of Los Angeles (initially decided in 2015), a state lower court judge ruled, among other points, that under the California Constitution there was no material difference between an onsite sign and an offsite sign, and the billboard ban was thus unconstitutional (a result contradictory to prior federal court rulings based on the US Constitution). The City appealed, and in an unusual twist, CSA and ISA filed “amicus” friend of the court briefs supporting the city (as did several Planning groups). CSA/ISA’s position was that if the appellate decision were upheld on appeal in favor of Lamar, it would seriously undermine California’s on-premise sign laws (sponsored by CSA 30 years ago), as well as result in an
unrestricted proliferation of billboards, i.e., potentially every sign could be used for offsite advertising, jeopardizing the entire on-premise industry, and subjecting on-premise signs along
the highway to Caltrans regulation.
Read More – Full CSA Legal and Legislative Update (PDF)
Sign Manufacturing Day 2015 Reaches 2,200 Students
Photo: The Oceanside Manufacturing Facility of Federal Heath had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Pat Bates to their (Sign) Manufacturing Day event on October 2nd, 2015. Senator Bates represents the 36th Congressional District in the California Senate, and is a strong supporter of the manufacturing industry.
Event Latest Outreach to Next Generation of Workers to the Sign and Visual Communications Industry
ALEXANDRIA, VA – October 13, 2015 More than 2,200 students got an up-close look at the sign and visual communications industry as part of Sign Manufacturing Day 2015. Continue Reading
We Need Your Support! What Happens in LA…
A situation arose in LA that could prove devastating to businesses of every size. We need you to join us and other industry stakeholders to save on-premise EMC signs.
Six years ago, the City of Los Angeles proposed a very thorough rewrite of their sign ordinance that would have set a terrible precedent.
What happens in LA often spreads to other cities and states.
Our view from the beginning was that the City of LA does not have a sign code issue, but rather the city has a severe enforcement issue.
In the ensuing years, CSA and various business organizations all came together to successfully halt enactment of all negative provisions put forth by the Planning Department. They finally understood the difference between off-site billboards and on-site signs.
May a City require CEQA approval for On-Premise Signs?
There is an express exemption under CEQA for on-premise signs. Public Resources Code Section 21084 includes a list of classes of projects “which have been determined not to have a significant effect on the environment and which shall, therefore, be exempt from the provisions of CEQA.” See 14 Cal Code of Regulations Section 15300, et seq (CEQA Guidelines).
Pursuant to 14 CCR Section 15311, dealing with Accessory Structures (Class 11), on-premise signs are categorically exempt and a negative declaration should issue. The authority cited for this provision is Public Resource Code sections 21083 and 21087.
Dynamic Signage Considerations
Certainly Dynamic Digital signage is a market that has been percolating for a while. The massive economic downturn stymied many manufacturers and audio-visual professionals: They could not find a receptive market. Today, prices have dropped dramatically and it seems nearly every business can utilize these wayfinding / advertising/ informational screens. But to serve this market, a few technicalities must be mentioned. For example, electronic waste. As you replace old display screens, California has some rules you must observe.
Fight the Underground Economy
Licensed sign companies in California are competing against unlicensed sign manufacturers and installers. The California Sign Association works with the California Contractors State License Board and other regulatory agencies to eliminate the unlicensed companies. If you are aware of illegal and unlicensed installations of signs, you can help solve the problem by notifying the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) of the CSLB. If you don’t want to directly participate, CSA will accept and transmit the information on your behalf.
The best way to let CSLB know about unlicensed activity on an active job site is by completing the SWIFT Lead Referral form. Use the link below.
Job Outlook for California
We are working for economic security, protecting access to health care and supporting the sign industry in California.
Key Points of Interest
A study from McGraw-Hill Construction looked at the number of green jobs in the building design and construction workforce, and found that 35 percent of architects, engineers and contractors report having green jobs today, representing 661,000 jobs. Also from the report is the projection that carpenters, electricians, HVAC workers and other trade jobs are expected to grow the fastest, rising to 25 percent of jobs in three years, from 15 percent today.