LA puzzle: So who poisoned the trees?
November 6, 2005
Los Angeles always seems to be in a roil over billboards, and the latest controversy has to do with three palm trees in front of billboards owned by Regency Outdoor Advertising, one of Southern California’s largest billboard companies.
This week the Los Angeles city council directed the city attorney to investigate the mysterious deaths of the trees, which were apparently poisoned. Who killed the trees?
The finger of the council appears pointed directly at Regency. The council has also directed city inspectors to determine whether any Regency boards are illegally placed and to complete an inventory of the city’s billboards, believed to number around 10,000.
A third of that total may be illegal. The city council’s action comes after a lengthy investigative piece appeared in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times raising a number of allegations against Regency, from erecting billboards without permits, to bribing public officials, to the poisoning of the three city-owned trees that happened to block the view of billboards owned by Regency.
The paper cites allegations contained in a lawsuit by a former Regency executive.
The story also reported that officials in West Hollywood were also looking into who illegally trimmed 43 trees along the Sunset Strip, 27 of which were in front of Regency signs.
Regency has denied any wrongdoing. Calls by Media Life to Regency seeking comment on the Times story went unreturned.
Regency has been in a long-running battle with Los Angeles over signage rights, and at one point the company won a federal court ruling that knocked out aspects of the city’s billboard ordinance as unconstitutional.
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