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‘Monstrous’ San Pedro entry billboard coming down after years of complaints

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Nearly a decade ago, former Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino began his battle to topple a massive billboard located just outside the entrance to San Pedro.

On Monday — years after the city acquired the land on which the commercial billboard stands and sued its owner — work began to finally obliterate the long-fraught sign structure.

“Driving into town, we always felt that first impressions are everything,” Buscaino said in a recent interview. “Our welcome sign should not be a monstrous billboard.”

Buscaino — who once called the billboard an “ungodly sight,” according to the Daily Breeze — said he was thrilled to see progress start on its removal Monday, calling it a win for San Pedro.

The massive billboard, located on North Gaffey Street at the end of the 110 Freeway, had for years rivaled the “San Pedro” monument sign that adorns the adjacent pedestrian bridge and marks the entrance to the community.

“This is a great day for the community,” Councilmember Tim McOsker, Buscaino’s successor, said in a statement Monday. “The San Pedro residents came together, organized and persevered. … This is something we’ve been working on for decades and I’m pleased that today we delivered it.”

Members of McOsker’s staff said the billboard is expected to be completely removed by Wednesday.

Since his first days in office in late 2022, McOsker has sparred with the billboard’s owner, Regency Outdoor Advertising. Regency’s lease for the location expired at the end of last year, almost seven years after L.A. city officials approved purchasing the underlying lot.

When the company didn’t respond to notices and letters to vacate the property, McOsker and other L.A. officials filed a lawsuit in February seeking to boot the billboard.

“I think that did have the effect of getting their attention,” McOsker said in a recent interview.

Months later, signs of that progress are now readily visible.

“I have followed this saga for literally years,” McOsker said. “Here we have a small, local community that is standing up to the big, outside, billionaire Goliath. We don’t want this sign here, it’s not safe, it’s not attractive.”

Regency Outdoor Advertising did not respond to requests for comment from The Times.

McOsker said the billboard has obscured the view onto city property, especially the nearby pedestrian bridge, which he characterized as a potential safety concern.

He said he initially expected removal work to begin in late June, but permitting and scheduling issues delayed the start date by almost a month.

McOsker said he’s glad to see “it all come together.”

“Government is made up of a lot of small victories,” he said. “The best thing we can do is string together small victories to bring back the quality of life for [our] neighborhoods.”

Mona Sutton, a nearby business owner and community advocate, has for years worked to help spruce up the area around the billboard, including helping organize multiple clean-ups. The billboard is one of her last gripes about the spot, which she said has really turned around in recent years.

“Oh my God, I’m so excited,” said Sutton, who is planning to join a small watch party of the billboard’s removal Tuesday. “This is just one more piece of the puzzle.”

“Things take time to happen, but it’s going to be a great thing to see it down, to see the area opened up,” she added. “It’s been a huge effort.”

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