Sunset Boulevard billboards add to the vibrancy of the Strip. But there are already enough of them, and the digital billboards are too bright at night. That was the general consensus at a neighborhood meeting held Wednesday night to get input from West Hollywood residents about billboards on the famous Sunset Strip.
About a dozen people turned out for the meeting — half of them were representatives of billboard companies anxious to hear what people had to say. The city is currently revising its guidelines for billboards with the aim of keeping the Strip iconic and promoting good designs, but also enhancing the urban experience of the Strip.
Overall, billboards are popular with residents, and the more creative the signs, the better.
“I am a big fan of billboards,” said Elyse Eisenberg, who lives on Horn Avenue above the Strip and is chair of the West Hollywood Heights Neighborhood Association. “I think they’re a large part of what make the Strip exciting . . . I enjoy seeing the new ads and the creativity behind them.”
However, the approximately 100 billboard “faces” on the 1.6 mile stretch of the Strip, make it the largest cluster of billboards on the West Coast. Residents said they don’t want any more billboards added and especially don’t want their views blocked.
“I think we have more than enough,” said John Kolbeck, who lives on Shoreham Drive above the Strip. “We don’t need to create Times Square here . . . don’t let them obscure our views.”
As for those digital billboards, residents said the brightness intrudes on their homes at night and can disturb their sleep. One resident suggested dimming technology could be incorporated so the brightness is automatically reduced after dark.
Others expressed concerned about moving images on digital billboards, saying they likely cause traffic accidents.
“I have to think a lot of fender benders happen because drivers are distracted by the moving images,” said Eisenberg, referring to the digital billboard across from the Andaz Hotel (formerly known as the Hyatt Hotel), near Sweetzer Avenue.
John Keho, manager of the city’s planning division, explained that the digital billboard near the Andaz was erected in 1997 when video billboards were still a new concept, and the city didn’t place any regulations on it. Keho said any future digital billboards would be highly regulated, and that most of the applications for digital billboards the city receives were to replace existing billboards.
Billboards generate a lot of money for their owners, but residents did express concern about buildings becoming mere pedestals for the billboards. With new buildings, they said the architecture should stand on its own; the architecture shouldn’t automatically incorporate billboards into their designs.
City planner Bianca Siegel said the planning division is looking to present revised billboard guidelines to the Planning Commission and City Council in summer 2015.