L.A. Councilman Moves to Ban Digital Billboards on Personal Autos

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Digital billboards atop personal vehicles would be banned under a motion introduced today by Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield.

Local drivers have noticed an increasing number of digital billboards attached to the top of some Uber and Lyft ridehailing vehicles, Blumenfield said.

``It was not too long ago that the Valley was blanketed with unhitched mobile billboards advertising everything you can imagine, and I am proud to have helped rid our communities of that blight,'' Blumenfield said.

``Constituents would come up to me all the time and ask what can we do to get rid of those awful mobile billboards? We learned then that some companies will go to extreme lengths to circumvent regulations.''

The signs Blumenfield is targeting use digital LED technology to display changeable illuminated advertising. Representatives of a company called Firefly, which installs the rooftop devices, could not be immediately reached for comment. Uber and Lyft drivers who agree to mount the digital screens on their vehicles may be paid an average of $300 monthly, Blumenfield said.

In November, the City Attorney's Office informed Firefly that installation and operation of its devices is illegal under state and city law, according to Blumenfield's office, which alleges the company disregarded the warning and continues to place idevices on ridehailing vehicles operating in the city.

In December, representatives of Firefly appeared before the Board of Taxicab Commissioners to request that the company be permitted to install its devices on the roofs of taxis pursuant to Board Rule 415(c), which allows commercial advertising to be mounted on a taxicab roof or trunk, according to Blumenfield's office. The board has not acted on the request.

Blumenfield's office said state law authorizes vehicle digital advertising only as part of a pilot program on buses operated by the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, the city of Santa Monica, and UC Irvine.

``Digital billboards on cars are just the next generation of advertising blight on our streets. They enable companies to use, for free, our public rights-of-way to profit at the expense of our quality of life,'' Blumenfield said. ``Furthermore, they can be a dangerous distraction for drivers. We need a clear law to prevent this problem from becoming an epidemic.''

Blumenfield's motion would direct the city attorney to prepare and present a draft ordinance to repeal Taxicab Board Rule 415(c) and request that the Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles Police Department take enforcement action against drivers operating vehicles with the devices within the city.

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