Santa Clarita officials released a copy of the ballot measure for a controversial deal with Metro and Allvision regarding billboard construction and removal in the Santa Clarita Valley.
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After months of public outreach by the city in support of the deal, and public outcry from residents opposed to the deal, the question facing registered voters at the polls Nov. 4 will read:
“Shall Ordinance 14-02 adopting a development agreement with (Metro) for the removal of 62 advertising structures, within the city, by Metro or any other means, and construction and operation of three digital billboards, adjacent to the Interstate 5 and State Route 14 freeways, and the dedication to the city of revenue received from digital billboards, which creates an ongoing revenue stream, be adopted?”
Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar was appointed to draft the argument in favor of the measure, which will appear on the ballot.
The ballot measure is the result of a referendum organized by voters, who were sponsored by a billboard lobbying group, the California State Outdoor Advertising Association.
Santa Clarita residents gathered more than more than 16,000 signatures in opposition to the city’s plan to put up three giant electronic billboards in Santa Clarita. Of those, 11,370 were deemed sufficient by Los Angeles County officials, which exceeded the 11,170-signature threshold.
The referendum gave the city three options: repeal the deal, take it down for reconsideration at least a year after the deal’s original approval or put it to a vote on a ballot.
City officials are working on the process, and will be launching a website in the next few weeks, which will include frequently asked questions, a calendar section, forms documents and other information related to the billboard ballot measure, said Armine Chaparyan, interim city clerk.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston questioned the wording of the ballot measure itself, while Kellar noted it was accurate because it encompassed the total number of billboard removed, including a buyout of Edwards Outdoor Advertising billboards.
“It is true that with the subsequent deal that was made with (Edwards) by the city of Santa Clarita that the original information having to do with the removal of billboards on the Metro right of way is not exactly reflective of the original deal,” Kellar said. “However, the referendum dealt with the deal that was on the table before, and you can’t modify it.”
Boydston felt this was subterfuge by his fellow City Council members.
“It’s frustrating to me that the council was not willing to tell what the truth,” Boydston said, noting a buyout of Edwards Outdoor removed 20 of the 62 billboards on the Metro right of way. “During the discussion, I wanted very much to not be misleading people.”
Both opponents and advocates of the billboard deal have accused the other side of spreading misinformation, with City Councilman Dante Acosta noting from the dais he was misled by signature-gatherers during the referendum effort.
Kellar said he did not personally encounter any petition-gatherers, but he respected the opposition. He took those who spoke at the June 24 City Council meeting at their word when they said they were honest during their efforts to collect signatures, he said.
However, Kellar remained resolute in his opinion of the ballot measure and the billboard deal, and felt voters would agree with him.
“I look on this billboard deal as a tremendous opportunity for the city of Santa Clarita and all of its citizens. The removal of 116 billboards on the Metro right of way in exchange for six faces is what I call a great exchange,” he said. Couple with that the blight that will be taken out of the inner portions of our city, and to be in receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year is an incredible opportunity for this city.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News