California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.
No. BS141216, Amy Hogue, Judge. Affirmed.
Gresham, Savage, Nolan & Tilden, Theodore K. Stream and
Andrea Rodriguez, for Plaintiff and Appellant.
C. Wickham, County Counsel, Elaine M. Lemke, Assistant County
Counsel, Tracy Swann and Casey Yourn, Deputy County Counsel,
for Defendants and Respondents.
2008, a billboard owned by Lamar Advertising Company was
blown over in a windstorm. Lamar rebuilt the billboard and
was cited by the Los Angeles County Department of Regional
Planning (Department) for violating County zoning ordinances.
Lamar appealed the order. A Department hearing officer denied
the appeal, and Lamar filed a petition for writ of mandate in
the trial court. The trial court denied the petition. Lamar
now appeals the ensuing judgment. Lamar argues that it was
authorized to rebuild the billboard without interference by
local authorities. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Erection of the Billboard
1967, the Department of Public Works granted a permit to
Lamar's predecessor to erect a billboard in an
unincorporated area of Acton in Los Angeles County (County)
alongside the Antelope Valley Freeway. Lamar later acquired
ownership of the billboard. The structure consisted of ten
wooden telephone poles supporting a sixty-foot advertising
1995, the County adopted an ordinance banning billboards in
the area where Lamar's billboard was located. (Los
Angeles County Code (LACC), § 22.44.126.) Under the
ordinance, the subject billboard became a
“non-conforming” structure with a five-year
amortization period after which time Lamar had to either
remove the billboard or secure a permit from the County
allowing the billboard to remain. (LACC §
22.56.1540(B)(1)(d); see National Advertising Co. v.
County of Monterey (1970) 1 Cal.3d 875, 878
[“zoning legislation may validly provide for the
eventual discontinuance of nonconforming uses within a
prescribed reasonable amortization period commensurate with
the investment involved”].)
five-year amortization period passed. Lamar did not secure a
permit for the billboard to remain on the property, and the
County did not seek to remove the billboard.
Lamar's Initial Interest in Upgrading
August 2007, the Department conducted an investigation into
illegal billboards along the Antelope Valley Freeway. A
Department employee observed that the posts supporting the
subject billboard were “weathered” and
“aged, ” and one had fallen down.
early 2008, Lamar's real estate manager, Bruce Haney,
inquired of a Department zoning enforcement officer, Daniel
Geringer, about the guidelines for upgrading the billboard.
Lamar sought to repair the structure's support
mechanisms. Geringer told Haney that Lamar had to submit a
Non-Conforming Review application to the Department in order
to obtain permission to repair the billboard. Haney responded
that “time, effort and funds” spent on such a
review would be “pointless” given the local area
was a billboard exclusion zone. Haney then asked what
procedures were required for a billboard damaged or blown
over due to environmental conditions. Geringer reiterated the
The Windstorm and Subsequent Repairs
November 2008, a windstorm blew over the billboard and
toppled one of the support poles to which an electrical box
was attached. A photo of the scene after the storm showed
eight wooden poles connected to each other by three of the
remaining lateral wooden boards. Lamar subsequently installed
a new advertising face, new lateral supports, a new
electrical box and wiring, and a new catwalk. Five overhead
lighting fixtures were replaced with three larger lighting
fixtures installed below the advertising face. The
advertising face itself was redesigned to cover a smaller
surface and rest on only seven poles.
March 2009, Geringer observed a commercial vehicle working on
the advertising face and support structures of the billboard.
In April 2009, the Department issued a Notice of Violation to
the property owner stating that the billboard was in
violation of local zoning ordinances. In June 2009, the
Department issued a Final Zoning Enforcement Order ordering
the removal of the billboard.
The Administrative Appeal
month, Lamar appealed the Department's order, arguing
that it was entitled to rebuild the billboard under
California Code of Regulations (Regulations) section 2271,
which provides that a billboard owner has 60 days to conduct
repairs after receiving notice of damage from CalTrans. The
appeal proceeded to an administrative hearing. The hearing
officer suggested that Lamar submit a Non-Conforming Use
Review application and Lamar agreed. The hearing officer
agreed to stay the administrative appeal while Lamar pursued
The Non-Conforming Use Review Application
November 2009, Lamar submitted its application to the
Department. The Department prepared a draft order approving
the billboard's continued non-conforming use with the
condition that Lamar remove the billboard in five years.
Lamar rejected the proposed condition. The Department then
prepared a revised order approving Lamar's application on
the conditions that Lamar deposit $2, 000 to compensate the
Department for inspections, and indemnify the County for any
action to annul the permit. Lamar rejected the proposed
conditions and withdrew its application.
The Resumption of the ...