Billboard Promoters Acquire
Superior Court Win
June 21, 2013
Superior Court ruling may not save the billboards.
California Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville has
given the County of San Bernardino and San Diego Outdoor Advertising (General Outdoor Advertising
as Real Party in Interest) a major victory.
McCarville's ruling, according to the Minutes Order posted on the court's
website June 21, 2013, states:
"COURT RULES AS FOLLOWS ON SUBMITTED MATTER:
THE COURT FINDS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE SUPPORTS THE AGENCYS DECISION AND FURTHER FINDS THAT
PETITIONERS ARGUMENTS THAT THE REZONING IS CONTRARY TO LAW IS NOT SUPPORTED BY A REVIEW OF
THE ENTIRE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD.
Whether the plaintiffs will challenge the ruling hasn't been
announced. At an earlier hearing, Judge McCarville disallowed the plaintiffs' attorney,
Randal R. Morrison of San Diego, from attaching into the Administrative Record what the
plaintiffs described are material records that the county ommitted in the compilation of its
court submitted county documents.
The court's ruling was based upon the contents of the Administrative
Record that the plaintiffs may alledge on appeal was incomplete due to court err.
No matter what direction this litigation may go, the billboard
proponents may be possibly facing a second opponent with the federal government. They
have dodged one bullet but may find themselves hopelessly stuck in the muck of a tar pit.
Immediately after the January 1st holiday, federal inspectors were in
Newberry Springs viewing the six billboards on Interstate-15 and the proposed billboard sites
along Interstate-40. The inspection team was gathering data for a statewide report that
is due shortly. What the report may contain, if anything on the billboards in the Silver
Valley, isn't known.
What is known is that the 'Bonus Segments' that have been described
in the Blotter since its initial
on billboards nearly two years ago, may be in contention. The 'Bonus Segments' involve
a state comprised list of segments of highways in California that the state says fall under the
federal highways Beautification Act and for which billboards cannot be placed.
The billboard ban exists because in the construction of Interstate-40,
as with many other highway construction projects, the state accepted tens of millions of dollars in
additional federal transportation funds in exchange for banning billboards.
For Interstate-40, along Daggett and Newberry Springs for instance,
there are some very small gaps that the state claims exists due to county street crossings
at the time that Interstate-40 paved over them (or other similar easement logic).
Newberry Springs billboard advocate, Spike Lynch, apparently searched out these assumed loopholes
for placement of billboards for his brother's billboard business, General Outdoor
The federal government, however, is allegedly contending that the state's
list of 'Bonus Segments' is based upon faulty presumptions; and that no gaps exists along
Interstate-40 that would allow for spot placement of billboards.
If the federal government determines that a state is in violation of placing
billboards, the federal government can withhold 10-percent of the state's annual federal highway
transportation funds for each year of continuing violation. For California, that could
represent hundreds of millions of dollars.
In realty, the federal government has reportedly never
had to do such a draconic act against a state as resolutions of such problems have been
accomplished; such as by the removal of the offending billboards.
The future existence of billboards in Newberry Springs may have as much to
do with pencil pushers in Washington, D.C., as with the state's judicial system.
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