Opinion: The Urban Blight of Sunset Spectacular

Sunset Spectacular electronic billboards flood homes with urban light blight.

By Jerome Cleary

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT WITH one flick of the switch many residents’ lives would change forever in their homes in West Hollywood. Sunset Spectacular is supposedly an “art piece” as some kind of alleged jewel for the Sunset Strip. But on March 30, the evening it was turned on suddenly, my home has now been changed forever.

What it really turns out to be is a ruse because it’s a big ugly electronic billboard shining tons of ads for beer and many other things all day and night long.

Who could imagine that I live a block and half a way but the blaring continuously moving digital billboard lights would invade my apartment in ways I could not fathom?

Bright yellows, blues, oranges and red now roost on my living room and dining room walls as the light pollution displays an endless colored slide show. Though I am impacted significantly, the real victims of our city’s betrayal are the residents of the condo building Shoreham Villas, the apartment building Shoreham Pines and the other residences that surround the parking lot from where the lights project.

You know how in a film or TV show when they want to tell the audience how bad a neighborhood is they show the character who is either a prostitute or criminal living in some flop house apartment where just outside the second floor window there is a tacky blaring red neon sign that says “Motel” or “Liquor Store” that comes right into the living space? Well that’s now my apartment. Every night endless lights greet me onto my walls that move as each digital lighted display ad flashes and moves up and down continuously.

Because of this, my lifetime favorite color — red — has lost its place in my heart because red now bleeds and invades my life in the evenings. How could we as residents be so led astray by the planning commissioners and our city councilmembers voting in favor of this huge mess?

This is not the Las Vegas strip and it’s not Times Square. When you go to Vegas and stay a few days at a hotel, most of your time is spent at shows, in the casino or shopping. You know you may have a hotel room that faces the Las Vegas strip so there could be huge digital billboard lights shining at your room’s window or not. Just like when you stay at a hotel on Times Square you know what you are in for and your hotel room is just a place you are staying at for a few days or maybe even a week.

As residents in West Hollywood we are now trapped by this unnecessary blight.

In the late 1990s there was a bright purple neon Yahoo sign that was on Sunset Plaza facing east. Residents from the Park Wellington condos complained to the city council, and billboard company agreed to turn it off each night at a certain time.

I am not sure what can be done now as we may be stuck with the Sunset Spectacular blaring lights into our homes forever.

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A.I. Rodriguez
A.I. Rodriguez
1 day ago

Go after city leadership for allowing this garbage. They allowed it, they gave out permits for this…and it’s making the city$$$

Gloria Vassy
Gloria Vassy
1 day ago

I really don’t want to see Miley Cyrus’s ass lit up in my apartment. There is one thing the WeHo city council is interested in. $$$$$$. MILLIONS OF THEM!!!

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
1 day ago

Another unfortunate part of this project is that the architect of the billboard educates future architects at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Rather than inspiring students to create architecture that engages with people in positive ways, projects like this encourage them to be narcissists and make our community into something dystopian.

Vigilent
Vigilent
1 day ago

One can easily read material about Light Trespass and Light Pollution as a health hazard that repeatedly interferes with ones health during a time there is well proven need for undisturbed rest and sleep.

The Neon Symphony led by the recent Sunset Spectacular constitutes an exponential health hazard to residents of West Hollywood and residents above Sunset in the Hollywood Hills.

How is this health hazard actionable is the question?

Laura J Meltzer
Laura J Meltzer
2 days ago

I attended at least 3 meetings with the Planning Commission and the issue of the lights impacting the residential area was raised each time. We were repeatedly assured that the angle of the 2 sides of the “Bell Tower” (e.g., digital billboard) would be such that no light would affect the residents on Horn, Shoreham or Sherbourne and would be visible only from Sunset. I am on Shoreham and the light from the East facing side of the digital billboard is now invading my bedroom every night. It needs to be turned off at midnight.

Vigilent
Vigilent
1 day ago

he neighborhood meetings were even more interesting when city staff argued in defense of every concern raised by residents…….but the LA County Museum will be offering curated content …..or words to that effect. The staff were there to relentlessly sell this project “comparable to the Eiffel Tower and a Bell Tower in Italy” locations they never visited nor understood the context. Uninformed staff leading us into walls….which will inevitably be adorned with light shows.

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
2 days ago

Jerome, every time you ‘run’ for Council, you plaster your election materials in every window and public right-of-way in the City. We’re as tired of you using public property to satisfy your ego as you are of flashing billboards.

Karma.

Brendan Hooley
Brendan Hooley
2 days ago

The big difference between the Sunset Craptacular and municipally-owned digital billboards masquerading as public art in other cities is that those installations don’t generally abut the homes of permanent residents. West Hollywood has made their position clear: They don’t give a rat’s ass about how it impacts our quality of life (I too, live nearby and get to enjoy being bombarded by flashing lights all night long). They don’t consider the possibility that residents may have very real and very serious adverse reactions to the constant assault of bright, flashing lights. Lost sleep, lost calm, and a lost ability to… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Brendan Hooley
Bobby b
Bobby b
2 days ago

Jesus, ever heard of blackout curtains, or is it easier to just bitch and complain?

Frank
Frank
2 days ago
Reply to  Bobby b

haha yaaas kween

mike fisher
mike fisher
1 day ago
Reply to  Bobby b

Mmmmm … indeed !

hifi5000
hifi5000
3 days ago

After reading this article,it is time residents go to city hall and complain loudly! I would not and could not tolerate all this bright lights and scenes strolling on my walls and ceiling all evening and night.

My solution would be to limit the hours these billboards could operate.Lights outs for these billboards would be 11 PM to 7 AM daily. Who is going to be looking at these billboards at 3 AM??!!

Someone on this comment section questioned whether people live in West Hollywood.Well, they do.

mike fisher
mike fisher
1 day ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Right on … just curtail the hours … agree with your suggestion

Vigilent
Vigilent
3 days ago

With all due respect for the giant oceanic birds, what we have here is a “Sunset Spectacular Albatross”, the proverbial pinnacle of Sunset Blvd. Revenue/Design Culture. This has been growing exponentially since West Hollywood was incorporated. The early leadership 36 years ago appeared so focused on their agenda at hand that they apparently failed to evaluate the built environment they inherited and accept qualified guidance as to how it be implemented in the financial future of the city without diminishing its aesthetic value. The resulting tragedy of this is that we now have a needlessly inconsistent hodge podge of development… Read more »

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
4 days ago

“BILLBOARDS” are Big Business and has been a modern version of an all powerful mob boss mentality over Putting UP their billboards and squeezing out any others, and ignoring all complaints.

I think it’s the one business titan even WeHo dark players in City Hall can’t control.

The Billboard Business has been hard locked up for decades w no ability to controll. 😵

LH, Esq.
LH, Esq.
4 days ago

Sorry, people live in West Hollywood?

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