ADDS 13 CHANGES THAT CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS REQUESTED; ADDS QUOTE FROM METRO
Santa Clarita city staff are recommending a rejection of a billboard proposal from Metro up for a second reading at City Hall on Tuesday.
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“The city manager is recommending a denial based on the fact that Metro is not able to provide what the City Council required during the first reading,” said Gail Morgan, city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman.
Metro officials said talks have not concluded, and indicated they hoped a resolution could be reached, a Metro spokesman said Friday.
“We believe this is a great opportunity for both parties,” said Paul Gonzales, a spokesman in Metro’s public relations department. “And the item came up at the last minute, and both parties are still working to find a solution.”
The plan was approved with a 3-1 vote during a first reading, after a hearing at City Hall. City Councilman TimBen Boydston was the lone vote against.
The City Council will have another opportunity to vote on the deal Tuesday, when it comes before them for a second reading in Council Chambers.
“There was an indemnification in there and the Council wanted something a little more bullet-proof,” Morgan said, noting the city had no intention of going into the billboard business, which was why the indemnification was so important.
Related article: Santa Clarita City Council OKs Metro Billboard Proposal
Boydston spent more than an hour going through his concerns about the proposal, which brought about several amendments requested by City Council, which proved to be too much for Metro officials.
The indemnification requested by City Council would have had to do with not only protecting the city from the taking down of billboards in the Metro rightaway, but also Metro’s building of three new billboards on the city’s land.
“(Metro officials) agreed verbally to it, but when they got back to their office and it was time to put it into action they were not ready to do that,” Morgan said.
The billboard proposal drew a packed house to Council Chambers nearly two weeks ago when it was first read, with about two dozen speaking in opposition, and about six expressing support of the move.
The city set up a website to gauge residents’ feedback on the proposal, which drew more than 100 responses.
The 3-1 vote was in favor of three 50-year leases, one for each of the three new freeway-adjacent billboard structures commissioned to replace 62 billboards throughout the city on Metro land during the more than six-hour meeting.
As part of the agreement, Santa Clarita’s coffers were to receive a percentage of future revenues, and the opportunity to advertise municipal concern with a portion of the billboards’ time reserved for city usage.
At the Feb. 25 Council meeting that had the first reading of the plan, Boydston asked for more time to consider the proposal in favor of a better deal for Santa Clarita and local business.
“I think before we make a decision on this project, I should have the right to look at the calculations,” Boydston said at the time, expressing frustration over the lack of information available to him in his decision-making process.
Boydston questioned everything from the visual impact to the lack of an environmental impact report to the revenues and language of the indemnity for more than an hour during the councilmember comment period.
City of Santa Clarita officials would still like to remove billboards, Morgan said, noting that talks with Edwards Outdoor Signs are “separate and apart” from this action.
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste recused herself from the discussion and vote because she lives close to more than one billboard site.
Those talks have taken place in closed session, and city officials could not comment on their status.
“The city has always wanted to remove the billboards,” Morgan said, “if not this deal, perhaps something else would present itself to remove the blight of billboards.”
Santa Clarita City Council members requested 13 changes to the proposal, in a motion made by Councilman Frank Ferry and seconded by Councilman Bob Kellar, to approve the deal with the following changes:
• Guaranteed access and pricing structure for local businesses (pg 105)
o METRO provided draft language
• Norland Road view for North and South side condition of approval; provided to City Council
o METRO provided draft language
• Review by City Council, not Community Development Director, related to the billboard
reduction and relocation agreements (pg 31)
• Better language to guarantee that city messaging is during peak hours (pg 61)
• Remove “reasonable” attorney costs throughout all indemnification clauses (pg 63, etc.)
• Clarify definition of “Operational Expenses” (“etc…”) (pg 134)
• Creation of a $30,000 Small Business Marketing Fund ($15,000 from METRO) and invite local
economic development partners and local businesses
o Period of 2 years, with timing coordinated with Edwards
• Ratio for future digital billboards (currently 20:1)
• Council notification for MUP related to colocation of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (pg
• Earmark revenue for “City Programs” (pg 51)
• Remove clause related to gift of public funds (pg 77)
• Remove language under “Purpose” (pg 29 A), “Intent of Agreement (pg 32 b), and “Purpose” (pg
40 A) and anywhere else in the document) related to the construction of replacement billboards
in the same location
• Include indemnity language related to traffic accidents (pg 75)
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Source: Santa Clarita News