County considers digital billboards

San Diego County supervisors yesterday directed county staffers to work with billboard operators and community planning groups to explore ways to change the county’s sign ordinance to allow digital LED billboards in unincorporated areas such as Ramona.

According to county staff members, billboard companies approached them to make a change in regulations because the new technology is currently prohibited. State-of-the-art billboards allow firms to quickly change advertisements and deliver timely messages.

“This is a win-win for us and the advertisers,” Supervisor Bill Horn said. “The digital screens will be much more

digital billboards.WEB

easily seen, which is good for the products and events they advertise.”

Digital billboards would also be more adaptable and could show weather, Amber Alerts and other public safety emergency messages, he said.

Staff will consult with the billboard companies, planning and sponsor groups and other interested parties, and return with a report within four months.

Options would not include animation, nor increase the number of overall billboards, according to Horn and Supervisor Dianne Jacob. They also said the report should consider the proportion of billboards that can be converted to digital, and any resulting increase in light pollution or danger to drivers.

“This isn’t about adding billboards,” Horn said. “The board letter specifically states we don’t want any more billboards. We want to replace the ones with better billboards, and right now our rules don’t allow for that.”

Jacob said changing the sign ordinance to allow for the conversion of traditional billboards to digital LED billboards could possibly reduce the number of existing billboards in unincorporated areas.

In other board action on Wednesday, the supervisors also gave tentative approval to proposed fee adjustments for inspecting food trucks.

If adopted Oct. 10 on second reading, the permit fee for hot food trucks would increase by $22, or 4.9 percent, and by $16, or 4.5 percent, for pushcarts that serve coffee, hot dogs or other unpackaged foods with minor preparation. Fees would decrease for permit holders with multiple pushcarts at one site.

Under an ordinance passed earlier this year, the mobile food trucks will be required to display the letter grades they receive from county inspectors, just like brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“This really completes actions we started earlier this year, and shortly those mobile food facilities are going to be much like a restaurant that put letter grades out,” Supervisor Ron Roberts said.

   
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