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NO DAMAGES FOR BLOCKING BILLBOARDS Trees trumped billboards Monday as the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that roadside property owners have no compensable right to be seen. “Denying compensation for reduced visibility, in and of itself, without an additional showing of a partial physical taking or substantially impaired access,” Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, “visits no unfairness upon property owners or others who occupy roadside parcels.” Regency Outdoor Advertising Inc. sued Los Angeles after the city, preparing for the 2000 Democratic National Convention, planted mature palm trees along the main road out of Los Angeles International Airport. The trees blocked six of Regency’s most profitable billboards, so the company sought $6 million in compensation. But roadway beautification projects not undertaken to limit the “customary maintenance or use” of billboards don’t trigger statutory compensation requirements, the high court concluded Monday. “Here, Regency has offered no evidence establishing that the trees at issue were planted along Century Boulevard for the purpose of blocking its billboards from view,” Moreno wrote. “Indeed, the evidence adduced at trial was to the contrary.” The ruling is Regency Outdoor Advertising Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 06 C.D.O.S. 7197.

Mike McKee

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