The Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 last Tuesday to approve non-digital monument signage to be erected on Katella Avenue in front of the soon to open ARTIC station, and took no action on a proposed 84-foot digital billboard to be erected by Clear Channel Outdoor between ARTIC and the 57 Freeway. Under its agreement with CCO, the city would have received a percentage of the billboard revenues in order to offset a portion of the station’s operating cost.
The electronic billboard proposal fell victim to a well-timed mail-and-robocall blitzkrieg targeting Anaheim residents, which was funded by Regency Outdoor Advertising, one of CCO’s competitors. it was right out of the playbook used earlier this year by Regency to submarine an agreement between the the City of Placentia and Lamar Advertising to erect five billboards (Lamar won the RFP competition over Regency). After its efforts to secure at least some of those billboards for itself failed, Regency funded a sucessful signature-gathering campaign to put the billboard agreement on the ballot. In response, the Placentia City Council suspended the billboard deal.
It was clear that if the Anaheim City Council approved the ARTIC electronic billboard, Regency would have funded a signature-gathering effort to referend that vote. It would have qualified for the ballot and been tough to beat; in the end, the council opted to approve only the ARTIC monument signs.
Too bad. The city lost a valuable source of revenue, and the proposed electronic billboard was perfectly compatible with its surroundings. Hopefully, the proposal can still be salvaged.