Negotiating with Cities which don't allow billboards


I’m running into situations in southern CA where I have landowners with valuable freeway-frontage property who want a billboard, have signed a land-lease with me, but where the city will not allow for the construction of new billboards. Any out of the box suggestions for getting things thru City hall. What about a revenue share with the city? Free city advertising (Welcome to …) on the sign?

John Gale


I know exactly what you are talking about, and have pulled it off many times. Here’s the key – you’ve got to negotiate it behind the scenes, and only go to the council once everyone is in agreement and will vote “yes”. That’s where most people screw up. They go to the council meeting and plead their case and try to negotiate it in public. You should never negotiate anything in public – you’ll never win. But in private, you can cut deals with the various councilmen to appease their personal concerns, and then the public meeting is merely a formality.

It took me a few years to learn this lesson. I have never won a case in which I try to negotiate it in public. I have won 50% of those negotiated in private.


Thanks for the advice. On a related note, did you ever try the revenue sharing free advertising idea? What % of revenue did you offer?


What deals behind the scenes did you negotiate? Any specific perks or ideas that would catch councils?



My most successful sales pitch was to go to a city and offer them a sign that said "Welcome to the City of