Noteworthy Amendments to the CA Outdoor Advertising Act

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The California Outdoor Advertising Act (COAA), enforced by the California Department of Transportation, (COAA) regulates the placement and size of off-premises advertising displays across public highways. Specifically, it focuses on off-premises advertising displays that promote businesses, services, or goods at locations other than where the display is situated. Notably, the COAA does not apply to on-premises advertising displays that advertise business and services available at the display’s location.

AB 1175 Something Old, Something New: 

AB 1175 specifically focuses on displays within former redevelopment agency project boundaries; areas designated for urban renewal and economic development. For many years, the COAA had treated certain off-premises advertising displays developed within the boundaries of a redevelopment project as on-premises displays. That unique treatment ended on January 1, 2023–until resumed by AB 1175 commencing January 1, 2024.

What’s New: Passed in October 2023, AB 1175 amended Business and Professions Code, Section 5273 to permit those certain off-premises advertising displays existing within a former redevelopment project area to remain until January 1, 2026.

What’s Not New: Remaining advertising displays subject to Section 5273 are still subject to the continued oversight of Caltrans and the City and County in which the advertising display is located. Moreover, the advertising display cannot cause a reduction of federal aid highway funds to the state of California. Unchanged by AB 1175, the COAA still provides that any such advertising display that is subject to a notice from the USDOT or FHA, or any other applicable federal agency that asserts the display’s operation will result in such a reduction in federal funds must timely cease operation. “Timely” means 60 days after the state notifies the display owner or operator and the applicable city and/or county that federal notice has been received.

AB 1673 specifically focuses on expanding outdoor advertising display relocations. The COAA prohibits a government entity from compelling the removal of a lawfully erected display or limiting its customary maintenance or use without payment of compensation to the owner of the display and the owner of the land upon which the display is located. Advertising displays relocated by mutual agreement between a display owner and a local government entity do not require compensation, thus saving the entity sizable expense. AB 1673, also effective January 1, 2024 expanded the opportunities for a display owner and a government entity to effectuate a meaningful relocation.

What’s New: AB 1673 clarified the definition of the terms “relocation” and “relocated displays” and with amendments to Section 5443 makes clear that relocation may occur at the same original location or elsewhere, including a different city or county. Moreover, a relocated or existing advertising display may be converted from a static display to a message center, provided on a landscaped freeway, there shall be no net increase in the total advertising displays on landscaped freeway.

What’s Not New: Relocation still requires strict compliance with applicable state law, and the zoning and permitting ordinances and regulations of the receiving jurisdictions.

As California outdoor advertising regulations evolve, staying informed is crucial. New definitions, exemptions, exclusions, requirements, and the like may present or prevent new opportunities. We can help you determine where you stand and navigate the challenges you face. At Hamlin | Cody, you can depend on our extensive experience in outdoor advertising law to help you get a clear picture of the standards, laws, and regulations to which you must adhere to maintain an advertising display–wherever it may be (or be located to). Our legal team is always prepared and ready to provide insights and assistance tailored to your specific needs. Contact us at 310-216-2165.