An Upcoming Change in the Billboard Landscape

Placing an outdoor advertising sign can be a tough task. It is highly regulated and often involves significant red tape to get approved. It may also be met with opposition from a small but vocal segment of the public. But market demand is rising. Experts are seeing a shift in use and popularity of outdoor advertising signs and predict a 2% upswing in use in the next year; a significant increase when experts anticipate a drop in every other sector of advertising.

Part of this growth is thought to be due to a distinct interest by big tech industries. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix consistently lease outdoor advertising space. Netflix has even acquired some of its own signs. Likewise digital billboards are becoming more prevalent, serving the community with both regular public service messages and advertising.

In keeping with this forward-thinking trend, the California legislature recently passed AB 3168 amending the Outdoor Advertising Act. Effective January 1, 2019, this new law could have some effect on the placement of billboards on California freeways. Redefining the term “landscaped” freeway, AB 3168 may open the door to new billboards in locations where they were previously prohibited.

Current law prohibits outdoor advertising signs on landscaped freeways. The definition of landscaped freeways includes freeway segments that “may become” landscaped in the future. The new law requires actual planting for minimum distances before a freeway can be considered to be landscaped. Simply covering a soundwall or fence no longer constitute landscaping. And a 1,000-foot or more of freeway that has been planted won’t be classified as landscaped unless it also has an average width of 20 feet of ornamental planting. Ultimately, this could open up more areas for digital and static billboards alike.

Other provisions of AB 3168 may also facilitate relocating advertising signs in lieu of condemnation by local cities and counties. Time will tell how these changes to the Outdoor Advertising Act will impact the overall landscape of outdoor advertising (pun intended).

If you have an interest in outdoor advertising, we can help. Please hit reply to schedule a Get-Acquainted Call or an Initial Evaluation. We have extensive experience in this area of law and dealt with a wide range of matters including development & entitlements, leases & easements, condemnation & takedowns and everything in between.