The Anaheim City Council Tuesday night backed away from approving an 84-foot-tall billboard after a torrent of opposition from concerned residents, instead moving forward with a signage plan for the city’s transit hub that only includes two smaller signs.
Those two 35-foot-tall signs were supposed to be digital and are designed to help guide visitors at the city’s new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which is the large shell visible from the 57 freeway that will be a station for trains, busses and bicycles.
But the digital faces of the monument signs, which will also market the transit hubs tenant businesses, were scrapped and will instead be static. Mayor Tom Tait proposed having the planning commission weigh in on the signs, but other council members wanted to have the signs erected in time for ARTIC’s public opening in December.
Council members voted 3-2 to approve the signage plan, with Tait and Councilman Jordan Brandman opposed.
The billboard was a substantial part of ARTIC’s operations and maintenance financing plan. Those expenses are projected at over $5 million annually, and there's already a deficit. City leaders expected the billboard to pay for approximately $800,000 of the costs, according to the Orange County Register.
During Tuesday's meeting, Councilwoman Kris Murray asked city staff about their plans to makeup for the revenue the billboard could have generated. They didn’t yet have an answer.
“We’re going to have to figure out how to backfill that,” Public Works Director Natalie Meeks said in response to Murray’s question.
Clear Channel Outdoor won the bid for the billboard, and some council members blamed the public outcry on one of the competing firms that lost out. An avalanche of flyers and robocalls in recent days have been urging residents to lodge complaints about the billboard at City Hall.
Council members didn’t name the company in their discussion, but a local blog with close ties to the council majority claimed that the firm responsible for the campaign is Hollywood-based Regency Outdoor Advertising, which used similar tactics in Placentia after not getting a billboard contract in that city.
“You’re operating in an unethical capacity, and I’m appalled,” Murray said.