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October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Monday, Nov 3, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieAll of the questions about the billboard ordinance that will be voted upon Tuesday (Measure S) started around a conspiracy theory.

Folks who don’t want the ordinance are convinced that most members of Santa Clarita City Council are in some way benefiting from the company that has the contract with Metro. It was an existing contract and is still in effect.

Some of the folks who want to preserve the current billboard status have come to believe some strange ideas. Let me repeat one from Councilman TimBen Boydston. He stated correctly that the billboard companies could remove billboards on their own and then couldn’t build new ones. He was right. That is what the law states. Now, can you tell me any business that would volunteer to remove its source of income, knowing it couldn’t recreate that source in the future?

And then there is another billboard preservationist who is concerned that Allvision has contributed many thousands of dollars to the “Yes on S” campaign. Nothing was illegal in those actions. The gentleman just thought the company had conspired with someone to get three new electronic billboards erected and the dozens of old billboards removed along the Metro right-of way. It is a legal and accepted way of doing business. There are thousands of dollars contributed to defeat Measure S, too. Most of that was used to gather the signatures by paid gatherers. In some case each signature gathered was worth around $9.

It seems the folks who don’t want Measure S to pass are those who still think the process was illegal and done in the back rooms of City Hall. They also think and state that council members are making money off the deal. Well, if not council members, then someone on city staff … or maybe …?

Another stretch of non-facts comes in the form of what information can and can’t be put on the three electronic billboards. The ordinance states clearly that ads for alcohol, gentlemen’s clubs and all other types like that are not allowed.

Under the current system for billboards, the content on the signs is not controlled. With the ordinance, the city can keep ads off the boards that would be offensive to just about anyone. So we will have control.

All of those old billboards will be removed – 60-plus boards gone, along with up to 180 bright spotlights that pollute our night sky and disturb many nocturnal critters. The three electronic boards don’t have the brightness of the 60-some standing now.

There aren’t any electronic boards planned for placement in the new Gateway open space area dedicated just last week. Sorry, folks. That was from a slam taken at our council.

You see, the folks who want you to vote “no” on Measure S are the same ones who are now making personal attacks on our elected officials and spreading lies about what content will be on the new boards. They are also attacking city staff members in many ways.

So let’s keep it simple. Voting “yes” on Measure S will do the following:

1) Remove existing billboards along the Metro train tracks within the city limits of Santa Clarita, thus removing more than 100 sign faces. This has been a goal since the day the city was founded.

2) Install three electronic billboards in locations that least effect residents and wildlife. There will be a total of six sign faces.

3) Control the advertising content from the standpoint of alcohol, adult entertainment and similar ads that would not be allowed. This is not done now.

4) Provide a method for the city and law enforcement agencies to disseminate information about emergency conditions on the highway, Amber Alerts and other public service announcements.

5) Provide the city with income from the new billboards that isn’t available now. This could be a $500,000 to $1 million in revenue each and every year. This money can be used for just about anything or any service that Santa Clarita wants to provide the citizens.

So what is the problem? Some unproven conspiracy theory that members of the City Council or city staff are getting rich from the implementation of the ordinance?

Or that the light from the new billboards will be brighter than the background lights of the 14 Freeway and Interstate 5? This could disrupt wildlife? The lights on the highways are far more of a problem to the critters.

Sorry, folks, the ordinance is good. We’ve yet to see another deal. We’ve yet to see any proof that elected officials or city staff members have made any money from it or could make any money from it.

The next thing we might hear is that the new signs are going to be locator beacons for UFOs heading toward Edwards Air Force Base or maybe Area 51 in Nevada. Really? Those signs are located on I-15 near Las Vegas. Didn’t you read that? It was in all of the tabloids at your local supermarket checkout stand. It was also on Facebook. It must be true.

Or, you can vote “yes” on Measure S. Remove most signs. Make money for the city. Win-win. And return the conspiracy theorists to the racks of tabloids you read while waiting to ring up your melted ice cream and wilted lettuce.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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  1. Steve Petzold says:

    For the record….alcohol ads are allowed on the digital billboards and Darryl Manzer conveniently forgets to mention that all political messaging is banned. The econoimics of digitaal billboards falls apart without alcohol ads, that is why they are not banned. All Content restriction can be found in exhibit E to the Development agreement.

  2. Steve Petzold says:

    We will not miss Manzer’s delusional tirades at SCVNEWS. He has done a lot of damage to the community since he returned here. He specializes in fire, aim , ready journalism and commentary.

  3. TimBen Boydston says:

    Mr. Manzer, Thank you for correcting the wrong information that you wrote in a prior column about the ability of Metro to replace billboards taken down voluntarily. You also have incorrect information in this piece. Measure S will not take down as you say “…more than 100 sign faces”. You may not be aware but the City is contracted to pay Edwards 1.3 million dollars to take down 44 faces in a separate deal that was passed right after the ordinance that became Measure S. Also the giant digital billboards restrict political free speech, something that both you and I served our Country to protect.

  4. This is total BS. The deal just sucks. 50 year non guaranteed contracts for billboards that can increase accidents and endanger our kids and their kids for those 50 years! I and most people against S just think the council is too egotistical to admit they may have not made the best deal and now that they are backed into a corner, fear what changing their minds would do to their political careers. I don’t believe for a second they would be stupid enough to take something in return, but I do think this is the case of them being extremely short-sighted and thinking they stand for the average SCV person, which they obviously don’t. It’s a trap many politicians fall into. Just because you are elected or appointed DOESN’T mean that you can now do anything you want and that everyone, including who put you there will agree. That’s why you need to continuously get out of your “circle of friends” and talk to average people, like me.

  5. That puts you, Darryl, at 114 when this deal expires

  6. And honestly, Darryl, you say you hate the billboards that are up now. Yet those are far younger than 50 years old. How will you feel about these new ones 20 years into this deal? Will they then be old and useless in your eyes? Will you boycott those merchants advertising on them too? #hypocriticalvoter

  7. Yeah I see this from Darryl all the time… :)

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