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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Commentary by Tom Cole
| Saturday, Dec 7, 2013

tomcole2013_800Since the beginning of cityhood in 1987, the city of Santa Clarita has been spending significant time and money addressing blight, with the goal of beautifying our City. The city’s very successful Graffiti Removal program, many new landscaped medians and side panels, the Urban Forestry (tree) program, city-wide recycling, thousands of acres of open space acquisitions, some undergrounding of utilities, regular community clean-up days and a myriad of beautification projects have gone a long way towards making Santa Clarita a beautiful city.

The city has long-been interested in billboard removal, particularly along the railroad right-of-way, which would go a long way toward improving the look of our neighborhoods. Over the years, the city has explored purchasing billboards for the purpose of taking them down. This has proved to be fiscally unattainable. Recently, Metro (the California state-chartered regional transportation planning agency and public transportation operating agency for the County of Los Angeles) approached the city with a proposal to achieve our goal of continuing beautification by removing every billboard in the Metro (railroad) right-of-way, within the Soledad Canyon Road and Railroad Avenue corridors, in the center of the city.

billboards1What they are proposing is the permanent removal of 118 billboards on 62 structures along the Metro right-of-way, in the center of the city, in exchange for permission to construct three, double-sided digital billboards along the freeways (two on SR 14 and one on I-5), on city-owned property on the outlying areas of the city. The three new billboards would be located as follows: SR 14 off Oak Springs Canyon; SR 14 on Remsen; I-5 on the east side of Magic Mountain Parkway by the current monument sign.

This proposal would eliminate billboards along the railroad corridor, thus improving the look of these areas. The proposal calls for Metro to be responsible for negotiating removal of the billboards. Metro would also indemnify the city against potential lawsuits that could arise from the removal of these billboards.

billboards2To be clear, the three digital billboards along the freeways would be two-sided with dimensions of 14 feet tall and 48 feet wide. Pole height for each of the three signs would vary between 54 feet and 64 feet tall. The total amount of square feet for the existing 118 billboards is 25,830. The three new digital boards make up 4,032 square feet for a total reduction of 21,798 square feet of billboards in the city, equating to a 20:1 removal ratio.

It should also be noted that billboards not in the railroad right-of-way in the city are not part of the current proposal and would remain for the time being. Additionally, if this proposal is consummated, the city would realize a percentage of future revenue from advertising on the digital billboards, which the city could use for additional beautification efforts, such as to purchase other billboards for removal. The city would also have access to use of the three proposed digital billboards for emergency and event messaging.

The proposal will go through an environmental process through the State clearing house (CEQA). It would also come before the city Planning Commission and the city Council for public hearings in early 2014, offering the community ample opportunities to weigh in on this proposal.

We are interested in learning your thoughts and ideas about removing 118 billboards on 62 structures in the center of the city, in exchange for constructing three digital billboards along the freeways. Please visit our website at: www.billboards.santa-clarita.com. Thank you for your thoughts on this matter.

 

Tom Cole is the city of Santa Clarita’s community development director.

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