E-billboards pushed to July


By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

Electronic billboards on city property along freeways that would show advertisements to motorists and put – potentially – millions of dollars into the city treasury.

Not so fast.

Wednesday’s meeting of the Westminster City Council descended into angry exchanges among council members and between City Manager Christine Cordon and one council member.

Finally, the council voted 5-0 in favor of tabling the matter until the meeting of July 12.

What the council was considering was the selection of Branded Cities LLC to develop, construct, operate and maintain electronic billboards at two city-owned sites adjacent to the San Diego (405) Freeway.

Income to the city over 30 years from advertising revenue could be as much as $121.7 million, but no money would come to Westminster until the billboards have been completed some time in 2024.

The proposal includes double-faced e-boards which would be 60 feet wide and 20 feet high.

The proposed project was a result of the city’s strategic planning goal of stabilizing city finances.

“I was blown away by the Branded Cities team. They were very impressive,” said Assistant City Manager Adolfo Ozaeta, who was part of the city panel that interviewed candidates for the project.

But Councilmember Amy Phan West had objections. “I don’t feel comfortable voting on this tonight,” she said. “I need more information. I don’t want to be voting in the dark.”

Vice Mayor NamQuan Nguyen was also skeptical, expressing concern that the council wasn’t given enough time to study the proposal. “I think councilmembers should be involved somewhere along the way,” or schedule a study session for the council.

Mayor Chi Charlie Nguyen joined in by raising questions about the project, asking for information about the “second or third best” applicant.

City Manager Christine Cordon, responding to suggestions that council members had not been informed about the project, fired back, saying “I find this insulting. I spoke to each of you individually about this” and quipped that if they wanted to get involved in planning there were jobs available in city hall.

Councilmember Carlos Manzo called the meeting “Bizarro” and Councilmember Kimberly Ho termed the controversy “demoralizing” to city staff.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14.


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