The billboard industry and the Auckland City Council are to discuss the removal or modification of inner-city billboards over the next five years in sensitive places such as heritage and character areas.
The council in a proposed review of its billboards bylaw had sought a phase-out period of only 12 months.
After a marathon hearing of submissions on a draft bylaw, which included threats of legal challenge, council commissioners recommended the council leave all existing lawfully established billboards and most existing lawfully established signs.
Hearings panel chairman Richard Northey said it had taken a "delicate balancing act" to reach the decision.
There were 1746 submissions about the bylaws review, mostly about restrictions which would have seen about 75 per cent of the city's billboards become illegal, cutting staff at billboard operators and billboard site rentals for building owners.
Mark Venter, of the OTW outdoor advertising company, said a backdown was not the right word to describe the revised draft bylaw.
"But we have ended up in a different place than the council started from," he said.
"It's a good, sensible result. They have some of the objectives they wanted but the recommendations are along the lines of the industry's recommendations."
Mr Venter said this included an alternative bylaw suggested by billboard operator APN Outdoor, which had won broad industry support.
He did not feel the industry had been consulted before the draft bylaw review.
"I remain angry and frustrated at the waste of resource in getting to this point," Mr Venter said.
"They didn't need to waste money for the city and for the outdoor operators to get to this point when we could have done it in a couple of conversations."
Outdoor Advertising Association chairman Duncan Harris was pleased with the recommended changes to the restrictions which would have removed 75 per cent of between 346 and 431 billboards.
"The industry won't suffer the significant damage that the initial bylaw would have caused and the council does get better control and tighter restrictions around our industry for the future."
More than 360 submissions were heard on bylaw proposals for signs alone.
"Common sense has prevailed," said Artcraft Signs managing director Roger Hawkins. "Though there are a couple of things we are not ecstatic about."
He said the requirement to seek dispensation for all new signs on the roof of a verandah was imposing an expensive, time-consuming and bureaucratic process on business owners.
"I think the commissioners should instead set some guidelines and as long as you are within these you could go ahead and, if not, seek dispensation."
Mr Hawkins said the commissioners had listened to the sign industry's protest about the proposal to reduce new verandah fascia signs from 600mm high to 300mm.
This would have caused waste of board sheets in creating signs this size because it was less than the standard size sheet used by sign-makers.
The commissioners had seen reason by allowing lawfully established verandah signs to remain, thus avoiding the need to trash 80 per cent of "perfectly good signs".
The commissioners' recommendations will go to the full council for a decision on June 14.
* Staying: Lawful billboards and most lawful signs, 600mm verandah fascia signs.
* Going: Central area new free-standing billboards, new street frontage walls and sandwich boards, below verandah signs.
* Restrictions: One billboard a building.
* Dispensations: Needed for billboards in restricted zones and new verandah roof signs.
* Enforcement: Power sought to issue infringement fees.
* Phase out: Five years to remove or modify billboards on heritage and character buildings.
* Good idea: Street numbers on all verandah signs.