Editor's Note: Sign Industry Under Attack

Sometimes I feel like Chicken Little. I’m sure you know the feeling. You see or hear or read something and you immediately think, “Oh, that’s not good. That’s going to have a tremendous impact on me/my business/the industry”.

I’ve been following the anti-billboard and anti-supergraphics debate in Los Angeles since the end of last year—right before the moratorium on new billboards and graphics was enacted. I read through all the reports from the LA Times, Los Angeles Daily News, and other print and web publications in the LA area and I felt a growing sense of concern. While the issues with regards to the sign ordinances started with traditional billboards, migrating to the newer LED digital billboards, what concerned me the most was how supergraphics and building wraps were being pulled into the mix as well.

I talked to a few people, but not a lot of people had heard much about it. But I kept watching and reading, and honestly, it wasn’t getting any better. Then it was reported that a new sign ordinance would ban digital signboards, establish no-sign districts, and impose fines on illegal signs. In addition, it would also establish various sign districts in commercial areas. According to LA’s planning commissioner, Sean Burton, this ordinance would prohibit digital signs, off-site signs and supergraphics "in more than 99 percent of the city. The one percent left is most in intensely urban areas."

This rewrite of the sign code would certainly have a deleterious effect on the print service providers serving the LA area. If this does go into effect as written and there’s considerably less wide- and grand-format printing, could it cost jobs? And what happens later if other municipalities decide to use this as a template for changes to their own sign ordinances?

In this issue, beginning on page 10, Jeff Steele had the opportunity to talk to the California Sign Association—who has been taking the lead in this struggle—along with representatives from SGIA, ISA, and the Outdoor Advertising Agency. In addition to explaining what’s involved with the new sign ordinance, they also weigh in on what this might mean on a much larger scale for the sign and graphics industry. But, like any story in progress, as we were going to press, the sign ordinance vote was tabled for another three months. We’ll continue to provide updates on our website (and through Twitter and LinkedIn) as the story progresses.

I know I’m still very concerned as to what the final decision will be and wonder how this might ripple through the industry. Do you have any thoughts about it? Drop me an email at denise@wide-formatimaging.com.

In any case, make sure you stay tuned to Wide-Format Imaging for more information.

I know I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it and will share anything I find out.