Under the zoning change, the advertisements, which would face Brand Boulevard, Colorado Street, Central Avenue and Broadway, must promote products sold within the two mall properties. Some of the proposed ads are already up under a temporary permit approved by the City Council last year.
Councilman Dave Weaver, who voted against the proposal, said it was more about bringing in money for the mall owners than the merchants inside.
“I haven’t heard that the retailers in these places are going to get the money,” he said. “It’s going to go to the ownership.”
The move also came less than a year after the City Council struck a deal with Clear Channel Outdoor to remove 15 advertising boards throughout the city’s industrial corridor in exchange for keeping the two-sided billboard near the Interstate 5 and Ventura (134) Freeway junction until May 2013.
“We pay to get rid of all of the billboards off of lousy San Fernando Road and through the city, and now we are going to turn around and allow them in the middle of our city, in the middle of our downtown,” said city activist Margaret Hammond.
But the majority of the City Council agreed that the advertisements were part of a unique situation, different from the dozens of billboards that have been removed in the San Fernando corridor.
“I think it can be done tastefully, and I think it can help these businesses and that’s very important,” Councilwoman Laura Friedman said.
While Friedman and other council members had initially said they were concerned about three of the proposed advertisements, they voted to allow the retailers to work with Community Planning Director Hassan Haghani to refine the signs as part of the agreement.
They also voted to require the creation of a revenue-sharing deal with the city.
While the proposal had the support of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, several downtown merchants said it was unfair to not give similar allowances to smaller businesses.
Ray Patel, owner of the Golden Key Hotel Glendale, which is virtually surrounded by the Americana complex, said his business met all of the special zoning requirements for the massive signs, except for the one that a property be at least 400,000 square feet.
”It seems kind of discriminatory to small property owners,” he said. “This kind of spot zoning doesn’t make sense.”