The Coast News Group

Word expected soon on digital billboards in Oceanside

OCEANSIDE — The City Council met in closed session on Wednesday to discuss possible terms for three digital billboards on city property adjacent to state Route 78 and state Route 76.

While there was no public action to report, City Attorney John Mullen said a meeting will be held soon to share the outcome of the discussion.

Oceanside has been considering digital billboards for the past four years.

The city changed its sign ordinance to allow up to four digital billboards on city property in 2012.

The city OK’d requests for proposals from three companies to negotiate terms, BGT Media LCC, Outfront Media and Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

Last year BGT Media proposed a billboard on Rancho Del Oro Drive near SR-78. The council denied an agreement that promised to bring $500,000 a year to the city.

Council discussion on Wednesday considered terms for BGT Media, and the two other companies, Outfront Media at Haymar Drive and SR-78, and Lamar Outdoor Advertising at Airport Road and SR-76.

Residents have not supported digital billboards. Several residents spoke against billboards during the public comments period that night. They repeated former stated objections that billboards cause blight, driver distraction and light pollution.

Speakers also thanked the council for any efforts to not move forward with the billboards, and requested an ordinance amendment to ensure none would be built.

Prior to the meeting Mayor Jim Wood said he supports billboards because they would bring needed funds to the city.

“It’s a good way make money,” Wood said.

He said residents have misinformation about the potential impact of the billboards, which he does not consider negative.

Wood added there is a likelihood the billboard companies may sue if the city continues to stall in making a decision, due to their investment in negotiations and initial environmental studies.

Following the meeting Mullen said a lawsuit from the companies would not hold weight.

He said council approved a request for proposal process to negotiate with companies, but “no one has a right to a contract.”

If Oceanside pursues lease agreements, it would be the first North County city with digital billboards on city property.

Vista tabled two digital billboards off of SR-78, citing the city did not want to put up $150,000 for environmental studies.

Escondido has two digital billboards on private business property adjacent to Interstate 15, which are smaller and have less impact than those proposed in Oceanside.