POMONA - Before deciding to extend an agreement allowing an outdoor advertising company to maintain billboards in the city, councilmembers want to learn more about the matter.

To do that, the City Council has established a committee that will look into various matters related to billboards and then report back to the City Council.

Those serving on the committee will be members John Nolte, Ginna Escobar and Debra Martin. Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa will serve as an alternate.

"We need to understand the (billboard) industry," Nolte said Wednesday.

At the Jan. 28 council meeting, representatives for Regency Outdoor Advertising detailed a proposal to extend an agreement with the city entered into in 1993.

Under the agreement, Regency is able to have 10 billboards along the 10, 60 and 57 freeways, according to a city staff report.

Regency would like to extend the agreement for 20 years and pay the city $1 million up front or extend it for 12 years and pay the city $600,000, the staff report said.

Another company, Bulletin Displays, would also like to install billboards in the city, though no company can place new signs in the city.

In 1993 Pomona voters passed a referendum that prohibits the construction of any new outdoor advertising signs, the staff report said.

In order to have additional billboards, the matter would have to go on a ballot for city voters, said Mark Lazzaretto, the city's community development director.


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Bulletin Displays President Mark Kudler told council members the company is willing to pay the costs if the council authorizes placing the item on a ballot.

Council members opted not to vote on the Regency agreement and instead decided to take some time to analyze the matter.

Having a reasonable understanding of the billboard industry is necessary not only to address the matter wisely but also to put the council, and the city, in a better position should it become necessary to negotiate a new agreement, Nolte said.

Nolte has concerns about the rate at which Regency is proposing to compensate the city as part of extending the existing agreement.

Martin has the same concern.

Regency is a financially strong company that could pay more than $1 million as part of a 20-year agreement extension, she said.

What Regency is offering is a small sum compared to the revenue each billboard generates, she said.

During the meeting Victor De La Cruz, an attorney representing Regency, said he was not authorized to go above what was presented in the proposal.

Nolte said he understands Pomona residents desire to limit the presence of billboards in the city 20 years ago.

Given the city's need for additional revenue it may be time to revisit the matter.

"Do we continue to dislike billboards so much that we're willing to sacrifice" revenue? he asked.

As part of the work the council committee will need to collect the opinions of residents, Nolte said.

"One thing I want to do is get community input to see what they want to see or don't want to see," he said.

Martin said serving on the committee will afford her an opportunity to learn exactly where Regency's billboards are located.

The time would also allow to her and others to determine if it's possible to change some of the terms of proposed agreement.

"Maybe we shouldn't keep all 10" billboards, she said.

It's also an opportunity to learn more about Bulletin Displays' proposal, Martin said.

The existing agreement with Regency Outdoor ends in June 2014.

Nolte said the council committee will have some time to go over the matter but it probably should have something before January if not sooner.


Reach Monica via email, follow her on Twitter @PomonaNow, or call her at 909-483-9336.