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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