Our city is currently considering an ordinance that will give us the ability to remove a significant number of billboards in our community by allowing a much smaller number of digital billboards to be erected in appropriate locations. This ordinance would provide us with important community benefits – funding for homelessness, public safety programs, youth programs, parks and much more – and offer our small businesses the opportunity to reach new customers and attract more business.
This simple shift is smart policy. But it is only smart policy if all of our city’s many diverse communities have access to these benefits, and right now that isn’t the case.
The current version of the ordinance would only provide opportunities to about five percent of the city. The other 95 percent of us would not be able to remove billboards in our communities and would not receive community benefits. This is exactly the opposite of what we need. We need to create equality in opportunity for our community members, for our local businesses and for our city as a whole.
It simply does not make sense to restrict these critical benefits to such a small portion of the city. We rarely have the ability to do so much for our communities with such a simple change. We should take advantage of the opportunity in front of us to ensure that our communities have the tools and resources to better themselves for years to come.
Our city leaders have held several meetings to ensure that the entire city is able to benefit, but now they need our help and support to move across the finish line. We cannot sit on the sidelines and allow one portion of the community to benefit while the rest of us sit on the sidelines.
We at the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce are committed to expanding opportunities for businesses in the African American Community and focused on ensuring equity in those opportunities. Now our city has the ability to further this mission by passing a sign ordinance that provides our small businesses with the resources they need to grow, provides us with the ability to remove and relocate billboards in our neighborhoods and provides all Angelenos with substantial on-going funds to address the most critical issues facing our communities today.
We must stand up and support the efforts of our City Councilmembers to pass an ordinance that will benefit us all. This is a crucial time for our city and for our communities. We simply cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity.
Angela Gibson, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAACC) Board President