Now, in Los Angeles, digital billboards are a way to break through the marketing mess. But the bright lights of these signs scared many people. Critics say they are a distraction from driving and a thorn in the eye of their neighbors that should be banned. But, in fact, the digital signs are growing exponentially. Clear Channel Communications, which has 10 such billboards throughout the city, today announced plans to double that number by the end of this month, making Los Angeles a major growth area for these billboards. The company also expanded its digital signage network in Chicago and Philadelphia, but by September the biggest crop will be in Los Angeles. \"The more crowded the area is, the more effective outdoor advertising is,\" said Paul Meyer, president and COO of Clear Channel outdoor . \". Advertisers love these signs because they find it difficult to reach consumers through traditional channels such as television and newspapers. But even a fickle audience- In Southern California, when they do, they often get stuck in traffic. - So it\'s hard to avoid billboards. The digital logos allow marketers the flexibility to quickly change their information and advertise for day-to-day promotions or special deals, Meyer said. They paid for the opportunity. A four- Meyer says the weekly event on the digital billboard flashes a different message every 8 seconds for $85,000. The one-month campaign on 10 static billboards cost half of it. Clear Channel is not the only billboard company to extend its digital capabilities. There are more than 500 digital display screens across the country, and analysts expect more of the country\'s 450,000 billboards to be converted in the next few years. Clear Channel\'s announcement came six months after the company filed a lawsuit with the city. Previously, Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor filed a lawsuit against a proposed regulation that would create an annual Billboard inspection fee. The agreement charges an annual fee on billboards while allowing these companies to modernize the logo. The deal also gives Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor amnesty to billboards that lack a license and allows them to replace the old static logo with a gorgeous digital logo. The coalition of community groups that banned billboard wilting then accused the city council and city lawyers of giving in to the billboard company, but a judge prevented the group from making a motion to stop the settlement. Now, delegates are not surprised to hear that new digital signs are on the rise. Gerald Silver, vice president of community organizations, said: \"This is regrettable and a sell-out of the aesthetic interests of every Los Angeles resident . \". Some L. A. Residents living nearby agreed. \"My kitchen is either bright in red, blue and orange,\" said Sarah laglia, a chef who moved into a new apartment near Beverly Center, it was found that a digital sign had just been installed in the street next door. The light flashed into her kitchen, she said, and sometimes she walked into the bedroom and closed the door to escape. Dora Davis, her neighbor, is not so lucky. On a recent weekend night, the billboard flashed an advertisement for the Bell air Hotel, the film 3: 10 to Yuma and the cable magazine Festival, illuminating Davis\'s second Floor apartment at the end of the building. There are lights in her bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. Davis is installing new blinds, but her windows are now bare and the lights in her room are flashing unabated. \"It started at 5 in the morning. m. \"It\'s like someone slapping your face in red,\" she said . \". Davis\'s son called the company to complain, and Davis said the lights were slightly darker. But she still doesn\'t like the bright lights in the room, and she says she prefers regular billboards. \"But I\'m stuck,\" she said . \". \"There\'s nothing I can do about it. \"A few weeks ago a man knocked on her door and asked to remove the sign, but Davis said she never heard from him again. Kevin Fry, president of the American landscape advocacy group, said the signs are not only annoying, but dangerous. His team says billboards distract drivers, and signs on federal highways violate the Highway Beautification Act that prohibits flashing and intermittent lights. \"The state legislature is regulating these signs through left and right laws,\" he said . \". \"We think this is a tragic mistake. \"This year, Fiona Ma proposed a bill to the California Parliament (D-San Francisco) Allow companies to replace highway billboards with digital display screens. The bill passed parliament, but a spokesman for Ma said residents in the Gulf began complaining about- Heading for Auckland. Frye said opposition from American scenic spots and other propaganda groups could also play a role. In a letter to the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, Scenic America notes that a federal study shows that anything that distracts drivers for more than two seconds is dangerous. \"In the driver\'s field of view, the brightest objects contain complex information that often changes and often distract the driver for more than two seconds,\" Fry wrote . \". The billboard industry has sponsored two safety studies conducted by engineering consultants tantaa Associates and researchers at the Virginia Tech School of Transport. These studies conclude that drivers often do not see a digital display for only one second, and that digital billboards do not cause accidents or prevent them. The industry says the signs are also useful in emergency situations, which can transfer travelers to different routes and release information about missing children. Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer of the Outdoor Advertising Association. Digital signs are no more distracting than regular billboards, he said. Digital billboards, he says, are equipped with sensors that, at night and on cloudy days, send out dim light, and on sunny days, the sensors will be as bright as static signs. In addition, advertisers asked them to do so, he said. Wired magazine Marketing Assistant Publisher Jim Richardson says the signs are a great way to convey a lot of information without much confusion. Wired has also purchased online advertising and regular billboard space, but Richardson wants to try out the latest outdoor advertising technology in one of the best outdoor advertising markets in the country- There, he says, people seem to be stuck in the car all the time. --alana. Semuels @ latimes.