When we drive down the freeway, we usually see an assortment of billboards. They have become so commonplace, we really give little thought about what it might have taken to put them there.
Billboard law is an interesting and special area of law. Many years ago, it was much like the wild west. Just about anyone could put up a billboard, as there was little in the way of regulations to stop them. Does anyone remember the little Burma Shave jingles by the side of every major highway?
With the support of Lady Bird Johnson, congress passed the Highway Beautification Act. It assigned to the states the responsibility for regulating billboards on the national highway system. This, of course, got out of hand, and local governments went to the other extreme, severely limiting billboard signage.
Fast forward years later, what we are left with is a whole lot of laws and red tape to control outdoor signage. The restrictions are quite heavy. Basically, you can assume that you probably can’t put up your billboard unless you fall into one of only several exceptions. It often takes a very keen legal eye to understand where a client might fit into these exceptions in order to build their signs.
To make things more interesting, now in order to build a billboard, we need to deal with three governing bodies; local, state and federal law, as administered in California by the California Department of Transportation, CalTrans. Each entity has its own set of regulations and requirements, which can become quite complicated.
The ability to put up a billboard most commonly is approved only because it comes under a handful of specific exceptions. Many people don’t realize that in addition to this, the process may be also quite political. A necessary aspect of our work is dealing with the local planning department as well as the planning commission and its staff.
Billboard lawyers are a rare breed in many ways. We are one of but a handful of lawyers in Los Angeles that devote a large part of their practice to this area of law. Because we have practiced in this area of law for so long, we have learned to think outside the box and be creative. When faced with an inverse condemnation case for instance, rather than fighting only the taking itself, we spend time working on relocation efforts, to find a solution for all involved. We strive to find an elegant and complete solution for our clients.
In a long and quite complicated case we had for instance, our client who was a commercial tenant was asked to take down their signs, for zero compensation. After several rounds of negotiations with the city, we were able to get our client rights to put up their signs in a highly desirable location, with a 50-year lease. In return, our client was able to make a donation to the City, so it could develop a park. Everybody won.
In order to accomplish great results like this, you need a lawyers with a high degree of expertise. With our history in billboard law, we are unique, and we are able to create out of the box solutions that get wonderful results for our clients.
If you have a legal issue regarding real estate or billboard law, come in and speak to us. We will give you a fair assessment of your case and suggest workable solutions for your circumstances. If you want to talk to us, just hit reply to schedule a Get Acquainted Call.