County to explore allowing LED billboards

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors directed county staff to work on amending the county’s sign ordinance to allow for the conversion of traditional billboards to light emitting display billboards.

A 5-0 Board of Supervisors vote Sept. 26 directed county staff to work with local billboard operators, local community planning and sponsor groups, and any other interested parties to investigate options which would change the sign ordinance to allow for LED billboards. County staff was directed to report back to the supervisors within 120 days.

“This is not about adding billboards,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “We will have better billboards, and right now our rules don’t allow for that.”

Many existing billboards are in need of rehabilitation. Digital billboards not only provide cleaner and sharper images than paper applications but can also be equipped with light sensors, which would measure the amount of light in the surrounding community. That allows the billboard to be brightest in sunlight to provide contrast and legibility, while at night the billboard could be dimmer to adjust not only to nighttime conditions but also to dark sky ordinance and other light pollution concerns.

Digital billboards also have the capability of providing changeable messages. In addition to such information as meal specials, the day’s rates, or upcoming programming or games, those short-term messages could also include wildfire information, missing children alerts, fugitive alerts, and other emergency information. “Important public safety information could be transmitted on these billboards also,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

“I think this is a win-win for us and the advertisers,” Horn said.

“I’m hopeful that a solution can be reached that allows for the use of this technology,” Jacob said.

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