Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Light pollution linked to air pollution

photo from Curbed LA Magazine
A new article in Wired examines a molecule that fights air pollution - with one catch:  it only works in the dark.  The molecule - a "nitrate radical" - breaks down harmful chemicals and toxic fumes in the air, but only under the cover of darkness.

Normally the molecule comes to life at night - but in our modern night skies full of the spillover of man-made lights - there is less and less of the benevolent molecule in the atmosphere.

The article mentions bright electronic billboards as contributors to light pollution and thus the reduction of the air-scrubbing molecule.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Main Street Revisted

Postcard view of Sauk Centre, MN, "The Original Main Street," circa 1975
(image via postcardy.blogspot.com)

Scenic Minnesota has produced an excellent short film about "signs, icons and changing times" in the Land of Sinclair Lewis and the Original Main Street. Main Street Revisited is a must see. More Scenic Minnesota videos here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Scenic Jacksonville fights to preserve digital billboard ban

Digital billboard near Tampa traffic signal (photo: myfoxtampabay.com)

Scenic Jacksonville is opposing Clear Channel's effort to replace eight traditional billboards with new digital ones despite a 1995 settlement agreement between the City and sign operators prohibiting new billboards. While the Federal Highway Administration allows digital billboards, it recognizes their nature is quite distinct from traditional billboards; that is why it does not allow them to replace nonconforming signs. However, Jacksonville's law department has reversed its common sense opinion from just last year that agreed that digital signs are new construction, and it now approves of Clear Channel's effort to introduce a new form of distraction and sign blight to Jacksonsville roadways.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seattle Skyline Gets Reprieve

Seattle's scenic advocates won a huge victory yesterday when Council decided to postpone a vote to loosen restrictions on large, lighted corporate signs downtown. (See here for previous post.) The delay allows the city to work with citizens in a much more productive manner on any changes to the sign code. The Seattle Times put it well in an editorial against the ordinance,

Vibrant and aesthetically pleasing urban design are key Northwest values. Russell should find another way to brand itself. Seattle's skyline is gorgeous just the way it is.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cell Towers Encroaching into Neighborhoods

(image reporternewspapers.net)
The Washington Post has an article about opposition to plans to place cell towers in residential areas in Fairfax County. As this blog has already noted, however, the problem of cell towers in neighborhoods is growing nationwide as carriers seek to meet insatiable demand in part created by an increasing use of smartphones and less objectionable locations are often taken. For information on how to help your community plan widely for telecomunnication tower locations, visit our resource page.

Meanwhile, the Post also has a devastating report on how the major Washington-area utility Pepco wrongly blamed the tree canopy as the culprit for frequent power outages.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When the Bypass Comes

Reading billboards one of the "7 Most Dangerous Things To Do In Your Car"

The Editors of The Car Connection have come up with a list of the "7 Most Dangerous Things You Can Do In Your Car," and among them is reading billboards.

The article points out that digital billboard technology is presenting a new array of challenges to drivers.  From bright screens that change every 6 to 8 seconds, to signs that show full-motion video right next to the roadway, the driving environment is becoming continually more cluttered with distractions.

"The best advice is keep your eyes on the road," the editors say, but that can be easier said than done when it comes to out-of-car distractions.  The human eye is designed to notice movement, particularly in our peripheral vision, so a bright, changing screen may in fact be near possible to ignore.  Of course, billboard companies know this and that's why they sell digital billboards to advertisers as something "people won't be able to take their eyes off."

Click here for the full article.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seattle's Skyline Threatened by Corporate Takeover


Few cities are as fortunate as Seattle to have an iconic skyline marked by tremendous natural beauty as a backdrop. The skyline is central to the civic identity of Seattle and accounts for the marked absence of corporate logos above 65 feet. But this sound and long-standing policy to let the skyline speak for itself free of corporate clutter is now under threat as city leaders are poised to give away the logo-free skyline to a newcomer to town, Russell Investments. Scenic adovcates, however, have sounded the alarm and are gaining momentum in their effort to preserve the iconic skyline from an unneccesary corporate takeover.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beauty Creates Strong Community Attachment

Pittsburgh Skyline (photo by Flickr user jmd41280 creative commons license)

While it seems intuitive that a community characterized by beauty and green spaces might be attractive to residents, researchers are now establishing the critical nature of aesthetics to community attachment and well-being. In fact, extensive research conducted by Gallup and The Knight Foundation for the Knight Soul of The Community project has shown that aesthetics is one of the three most important qualities in determining community attachment. Beauty, along with openness and social offerings, was consistently rated by residents as a key driver for community attachment ahead of other areas such as local economy, leadership and safety.

These important findings buttress additional research conducted recently. (See for example this study conducted by Richard Florida for the Martin Prosperity Institute.) The research conducted Soul of the Community Project has also shown that that beauty and the other key drivers of community attachment also correlate highly with local economic growth. So for community leaders looking to inspire passion and loyalty in residents as well as growing the local economy, fostering policies and programs that lead to good aesthetics and green spaces is a great place to start.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Montreal Borough Set to Remove Billboards

One of 45 billboards ordered to be removed (photo: CBC)

Council members of Montreal's Plateau Mont-Royal borough have banned new billboards and ordered the removal of existing ones within one year. In response to this call for scenic improvements, the outdoor industry has promised a lenghty legal fight: "We won't stop, and we will get to the end and citizens will pay. That's for sure," says their attorney.

Don't count the borough impressed by the threat to raid the public treasury. City attorneys have given the okay to proceed and City Councilor Alex Norris remarked, "We're not going to be moved by such threats. We're here to represent the public interest and the public is solidly behind us on this initiative."

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Billboard Clutter to Blight Pheonix Highways?

Putting aside a Pheonix City ordinance limiting billboards, a Board of Adjustments decision threatens to blight uncluttered vistas along Pheonix freeways. A Pheonix Planning Commissioner is fighting to uphold the integrity of the ordinance and is seeking to appeal the Board of Adjustments decision in the courts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Billboards in Unincorporated Areas Threaten Chicagoland Communities

Incorporated communities like Homer Glen are concerned about a proposal to allow digital billboards without public hearing in unincorporated Will County, the Chicago Tribune reports.

As city officials note, billboards outside city limits can still have negative impacts upon a community. Interestingly, Texas allows most cities to regulate billboards in adjacent unincorporated areas. In fact, 59 billboards erected illegally in Houston's "extra-jurisdictional" territory will be taken down under court order.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Proposal for Billboard in Boston's Savin Hill Pulled

Fierce local opposition forces billboard company to pull proposal from Boston's Savin Hill neighborhood.

"City Councillor Maureen Feeney said that the billboard proposal would have a “devastating impact” on the neighborhood and the people who have tried for over 25 years to beautify it," reports the Dorchester Reporter.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

County Commissioners Lobby for Stronger State Billboard Restrictions in Texas

Texas communities take great pride in strictly regulating billboards. In fact, over 130 cities in the Lone Star state prohibit new billboards. Unfortunately, Texas counties do not have the same authority to regulate billboards as incorporated areas do. Out of concern that too many billboards are popping up in rural areas, many county commissioners are pushing the state to strengthen its own regulations.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kentucky billboard measure dies in Senate

The House bill that would have allowed "non-commercial" billboards to go up without permits in Kentucky was shot down in the Senate chambers on Friday.

An amendment to the bill also would have allowed for trees and vegetation to be cut down around billboards throughout the state.

Thanks and congratulations go to the folks at Scenic Kentucky, whose hard work helped stop this bill in the Senate.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kentucky billboard bill could cost loss of $42 million in federal highway funding

Despite warnings from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet that a bill exempting non-commercial billboards from the Cabinet's permitting process was non-compliant with the Highway Beautification Act, the House approved the measure. Now, the Federal Highway Adminstration has officially warned the state officials that the bill does indeed appear to violate the HBA and that the state could lose 10% of its federal highway funding allocation if it passes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Philadelphia Inquirer Cautions Against Digital Billboards

The Philadelphia Inquirer runs a strong editorial against Big Billboard's rush to digitize the American landscape and the need for governments to assess the safety of digital signs. The editorial notes that with plans for as many as 60,000 digital billboards across the country, our highways will look like Times Square without action.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

USA Today Covers Digital Billboard Regulation

Television on a stick. Fully animated, on-premises digital sign on I-70 in St. Louis. (photo by Tim A. Parker for USA Today)

USA Today covers the growing number of local governments enacting prohibitions and moratoria on digital billboards. Saint Louis, which just enacted a one year moratorium on digital signs, is featured.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rapid City Studies Digital Billboards During 90 Day Moratorium

The Rapid City Journal runs an in-depth article on digital billboards and how other cities are regulating them as the South Dakota city prepares for new regulations during a 90 day moratorium enacted last week.
Meanwhile, Daktronics, a manufacturer of digital signs, argues against the fact-based reality of traffic safety researchers: despite the ongoing FHWA safety study on digital billboard distraction and th exhaustive 2009 report prepared for AASHTO which concluded that the best science shows that digital signs indeed distract motorists eyes from the road for demonstrably unsafe periods of time, Daktronics says there are no concerns about their safety.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Now That is a Distracting Billboard!

Now that the traffic safety community has concluded that there is a sound and growing body of scientific evidence that digital billboards distract motorists' eyes from the road for unsafe periods of time, there may be a new, and possibly uncomfortable field of study if the naked man that stopped Dallas traffic by dancing on top of a billboard becomes a trend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Billboards Behaving Badly

The Side Streets blog at the Colorado Springs Gazette has an excellent post highlighting the views of homeowners who have had the misfortune of a digital billboard moving into the neighborhood.

"The light shines right on my living room window. It blinks and I see it all the time. Blink. Blink. Blink," says one homeowner of the ultra-bright billboards that rotate ad copy every six seconds.
Across the country, the story is the same: digital billboards are bad neighbors. (See here and here for news videos of homeowners impacted by light trespass from digital billboards.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plan to Create a mini-Times Square Raises Opposition in D.C.

Washington D.C.'s Gallery Place district, home of the Verizon Center and adjacent to the city's Chinatown, may become a mini-Times Square as developers are proposing to add a mass of digital signage to the area. Included in the plans are six fully animated street kiosks and two 45 foot tall signs that would be attached to a condominium.

As could be expected, the proposal is being met with opposition from neighborhood residents and preservationists in a city that has strict sign limits. Several condo owners in the building that would host the signage have started the website www.stopthebillboard.org.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rapid City Puts Brakes on Digital Billboards

Rapid City is the latest community to enact a moratorium on digital billboards. The three month moratorium was initiated after billboard companies were taking advantage of a loophole in the current ordinance to convert traditional billboards to digital. Rapid City's goal is to reduce the number of billboards in the city.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Campaign billboards versus campaign yard signs

The Desert Sun raises an interesting issue as Rancho Mirage city council candidates battle over which type of sign is more environmentally friendly and less blighting... the traditional yard sign or the giant highway billboard?

The issue arose when a council candidate issued a challenge for everyone to run environmentally clean campaigns and to not despoil the beauty of the city with election signs all across town. However, the challenged candidates were quick to point out hypocrisy as the candidate has paid $4,000 to put up a large billboard on a highway in a town where billboards are illegal except for a few remaining "grandfathered" signs.

Now, I must admit that having public rights-of-way overrun with campaign signs can be a bit annoying, but make no doubt about it: billboards are environmentally unfriendly. In fact, a typical highway-sized billboard is 672 sq. ft. and almost always the poster gets dumped in the land fill. Further, most billboards are lit at night, wasting energy and polluting the night sky.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bridges and Billboards

One journalist referred to the world's growing proliferation of commercial outdoor ads as "the colonization of the public space."

Here in Sydney, majestic views of the Harbor Bridge, and towering office buildings are protected from the blight of towering billboards, eye-popping digital signage and giant commercial wallwraps. America has sadly failed in this regard and we need elected leaders who understand that beauty is an irreplaceable asset that is good for business. Change is inevitable. Ugliness is not.

Michigan and Minnesota Consider Statewide Digital Billboard Moratoria

The legislatures of Michigan and Minnesota are considering statewide moratoria on digital billboards. Minnesota's bill has a hearing today.

Existing studies make clear that digital signs distract motorists eyes for demonstrably unsafe periods of time. Indeed, it is only common sense that these extremely bright and vivid signs which rotate ad copy as often as every six seconds violate the well-established "two-second" rule of motorist distraction.

Abby Dart of Scenic Michigan calls digitals billboards "weapons of mass distraction" and notes, "if you are distracted and looking at the billboard, then you are not looking at the road."

Many communities and some states already have prohibited digital billboards; enacting a moratorium should be a no-brainer for public officials who believe it is their job to protect the public based upon the best scientific evidence.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sydney Australia - First Stop on the International Billboard Scan

Ed. note:  Scenic America President Mary Tracy is traveling around the world as part of the International Outdoor Advertising Scan, a tour organized by a division of the Federal Highway Administration.  She will be updating us on her findings frequently.  Check back here at the blog often, or at our Twitter feed.

I arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning after a 20 hour plane ride. Passing through the international date line, I realized that Monday disappeared forever. If one has to lose a day I decided that Monday is a good choice. I photographed my first sign in Sydney, located in the entrance way of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sydney is considered one of the most attractive cities on the earth, and I must agree.

More to come...

St. Louis Moves Closer to Digital Billboard Moratorium

After many neighborhood complaints over the city's only digital billboard and with a new sign readied to go up in a historic neighborhood, Saint Louis City officials move forward with a moratorium on digital billboards.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Put Digital Billboards on Hold

The Pocono Record is the voice of reason in its editorial calling for Pennsylvania to put digitals on hold for more safety study. Statewide moratoria on digital billboards are already under consideration in Michigan and Minnesota. A bill in Missouri would prohibit them all together.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

No Oscars for LA Supergraphics

Hoping to cash in on the Oscars by draping buildings on Hollywood Boulevard with illegal multi-story supergraphics, several owners instead were served with criminal warrants. By Saturday morning, the illegal signs had been removed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Durham Residents Fight Effort to Allow Digital Billboards

Durham, NC has had a strong billboard law for over 25 years, but now neighborhood groups are leading the effort to fight off an attack by Big Billboard to allow existing "grandfathered" billboards that do not meet current standards to nevertheless be upgraded to digital technology and possibly even moved to new locations. A CVB poll of Durham residents last summer found residents favored keeping the existing law by a margin of 9 to 1. The Durham News reports that city leaders also are reluctant to weaken the effective billboard law that has enhanced Durham's attractiveness.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Electronic Billboards Up for Debate in Denver

Denver already has strict limits on digital signage, and is now moving for a vote that would prohibit them altogether. Scenic Colorado and neighborhood groups are leading the effort, and the Council plans a public hearing and vote on the matter on Monday. ABC-7 has more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Drivers Can't Escape Digital Billboard Distraction

The New York Times covers the motorist distraction issue of digital billboards as part of its ongoing Driven to Distraction series.

Existing studies make it clear that digital signs are a distraction. As an exhaustive report conducted for the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials of prior studies concludes:

"Those [state and local officials] who think their job is to do what they can to enhance safety for the traveling public based upon the best available evidence now have, in our opinion, access to a strong and growing body of evidence, including evidence from industry funded research, that roadside digital advertising attract drivers' eyes away from the road for extended, demonstrably unsafe periods of time."

See more on digital distraction at Scenic America here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LA Sues 27 Sign Companies over Supergraphics

(photo: Kirk McCoy/ Los Angeles Times/ March 25, 2009)

In another encouraging sign that Los Angeles city government has had enough of flagrant violations of its sign law, the City Counselor's Office filed a civil suit this week against 27 companies that have been wrapping supergraphic signs over as many as 250 buildings in the city. Criminal charges are also pending against some companies.

The suit not only seeks the removal of the signs as well as damages and the disgorgement of profits made through the illegal activity. Crimal charges are also pending against some companies.

Update: The Los Angeles Times' coverage of the suit is here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Illegal Spot Zoning Attempt Denied

A rather common practice of potential billboard owners is to attempt to reclassify agricultural or residential property to commercial or industrial in order to allow for a billboard. What is disconcerting is when local government officials seem prepared to accommodate such requests.

But planners in Dyer County, Tennessee had to drop an effort to rezone a small portion of agricultural land in order to accommodate a billboard after learning from TDOT that such "spot zoning" is illegal and runs afoul of both the letter and spirit of the Highway Beautification Act, which only permits billboards in commercial or industrial areas.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Billboard Seeks End to No New Billboards Law in Petersburg, VA

Petersburg, VA has benefited from a strong sign ordinance that has prohibited new billboards since 1991. But now Big Billboard has written up an ordinance change that it hopes will bring a digital landscape to the 1-95 corridor. For every digital billboard allowed along I-95, the proposal would require the removal of an existing billboard in the inner city. City council will vote on Big Billboard's proposal on March 2nd. This excellent letter to the editor of The Progress-Index has more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

National Scenic Byways 2010 Solicitation of Grant Proposals Announced

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued the FY 2010 solicitation for proposals under the National Scenic Byways Program. FHWA has added a new emphasis on proposals that support livability, and once again is encouraging the application of large-scale, high-cost projects that provide strategic benefits to the byway. Local governments and 501(c)(3) entities are among those eligible to apply in coordination with State DOT's.

Individual DOT's will set their own deadlines to review individual applications, but must forward applications to FHWA regional offices by April 16th. Visit www.bywaysonline.org/grants for more information.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Denver Moves Towards Digital Moratorium

In a further move towards ensuring that the Denver's beauty doesn't get threatened by digital blight, a proposed moratorium on new digital billboards was approved by the zoning committee and will now head for a public hearing and vote by the full council.

Denver already has strict limits on digital signs and only allows a change in ad copy once every hour; as a result, there are only three digital billboards in the city. A moratorium to allow for the study of the safety affects and other issues should further ensure that the city remains vigilant against the threat of digital blight. Kudos to city officials for putting public safety and the concerns of Denver's residents ahead of Big Billboard.

Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds NYC Billboard Limits

In another legal blow to Big Billboard, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld New York City's prohibition of commercial off-premises billboards along the city's major highways.

The city has had such a ban since 1940, but has had a weak record on enforcement. The Court of Appeals ruled that spotty enforcement in the past does not preclude the city from enforcing the prohibition now. The court also rejected the argument by Clear Channel and other large billboard companies that New York violated the First Amendment by prohibiting highway billboards while allowing smaller signs elsewhere in the city.

D.C. Residents Face Threat from Supergraphics

photo: Washington City Paper

The presence of supergraphics in a concentrated, unique entertainment district like Times Square is one thing, but even NYC now takes a strong stand against supergraphics elsewhere in the city. Allowing D.C.'s stately beauty to be despoiled by supergraphic signs is unthinkable.

A public hearing on the special sign legislation is scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

LA finds digital billboards should not have been allowed

In yet another reminder that digital billboards have no place near neighborhoods, the Los Angeles Area Planning Commission ruled that permits for three digital signs were wrongly issued by the city's building department. L.A. based Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight reports that the highly distracting signs generated numerous complaints from surrounding residents.

The ruling means the signs are now operating without a valid permit and may lead to similar decisions against the other 90+ digital billboards in the city.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times covers the victory for scenic advocates.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

South Saint Paul residents live digital billboard nightmare

Digital billboards are a safety concern to motorists, but in yet another reminder that these extremely bright signs also are a frustrating nuisance to neighboring homeowners, WCCO -CBS brings us this story of a South St. Paul neighborhood under a digital assault from a nearby sign in West St. Paul.

As one homeowner says, "Its here all the time. It's like a tv set on all the time." As for the decision of West St. Paul to allow the sign, another homeowner says, "I think it is a really crummy, disrespectful way to treat people you live so closely with."

After viewing the video, I think you'll agree that municipal officials who allow distracting digital signs to invade the quiet enjoyment of homeowners are indeed disrespectful.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scenic activist questions proposal to weaken Tucson sign ordinance

Tucson, Arizona activist Mark Mayer is highlighted in an Inside Tucson Business article about a proposed change to the city's sign code that would allow nonconforming signs to be exempted from complying with the current code in cases of signs affected by street widening.

Mayer notes the proposal would upend long-standing policy by Tucson that has successfully removed over 70 nonconforming billboards over the past 25 years.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Atlanta Board Says No to Digital Billboards

Attempts by the billboard industry to launch a wave of digital blight upon Atlanta's landscape received a great set back as the city's zoning review board unanimously accepted a city council recommendation that the amendment be defeated. Atlanta does not allow new billboards or the replacement of traditional signs with digital ones. Speaking against the amendment were a number of civic groups including Scenic Georgia and Keep Atlanta Beautiful. The recommendation to keep Atlanta free of digital billboards goes to a full Council vote February 15th.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Largo to consider FHWA digital billboard safety study

City staff and some council members in Largo, Florida wisely are seeking to ensure that the upcoming results of the Federal Highway Administration study on the safety of digital billboards are taken into consideration before the city acts on any decision to allow the new technology.

Largo is among the thousands of communities in the country that do not allow new billboards.

The FHWA study is scheduled for release in April and will provide the most comprehensive research to date on the extent of motorist distraction caused by digital billboards. It will complement an exhaustive research review conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program for state transportation officials released last year that raises serious concerns about digital billboards and concluded that public officials have a growing and sound body of evidence that digital billboards pose a safety issue. A pdf of the report can be downloaded here.

More information on the safety issue and other problems of digital billboards can be found at this Scenic America resource page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Off-Premises Ad Creep on Digital Signs

(photo: ADAM RICHINS/ Pocono Record)

With the ease of programming new ad content on digital signs, it is not surprising that some owners of on-premises digital signs that do not have a valid off-premises sign permit nevertheless may be tempted to disregard the law and put up revenue producing illegal ads. Such appears to be the case with an on-premises digital sign for a travel center in Pennsylvania that has caught the attention of PennDOT regulators.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CSS National Dialogue Webcast Event February 4th

The CSS National Dialog will hold its next workshop on February 4th in Charlotte, and registration for a free webcast is available at www.cssnationaldialog.org.

The workshop will include an up-to-date overview of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) plus presentations on exemplary CSS projects with case studies selected from over 90 submissions from across the country.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway Turns 75!

(WPA reproduction via Ranger Doug Enterprises)

2010 marks the 75th Anniversary of one of America's most scenic drives. Visit www.blueridgeparkway75.org for more information on how to celebrate this jewel of the National Park System!

NYC Officals Order Removal of Celebrity Gym Supergraphics

photo via Curbed

After being bombarded with complaints from Greenich Village residents of giant supergraphic signs on a gym located in a preservation district, New York City officials have ordered the removal of the illegal signs. Stiff fines will begin today if the ads are not removed. The New York Post has more.
Update: The owners complied with the deadline and the signs have been removed to the delight of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Your Community Ready for America in Bloom?

The more than 200 communities from across the country that have participated in the America in Bloom contest can attest to the benefits of this wonderful, friendly competition that encourages community involvement in the beautification of their communities.

If you look around your community and are proud of where you live, it just may be ready to share its beauty through America in Bloom! The deadline for the 2010 competition is February 28th. In addition, the 2010 AIB Symposium will be held in Saint Louis September 28 - October 2nd. To find out more about the competition, symposium and resources of America in Bloom, visit its website today!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is there a "Green" Civil War?

USGS photo: Wind energy project on BLM land in California

While the headline of "Green Civil War: Projects vs. Preservation" goes overboard, the "Room for Debate" online column in the New York Times is well worth reading as it provides a number of thoughtful comments by leading environmentalists on the tension that sometimes arises between preserving wide open spaces and using public lands for renewable energy projects.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clear Channel Clears Out

Scenic Saint Paul passes along this video of the removal of a rooftop billboard. Kudos to the property owner for saying no to a new billboard lease!

Meanwhile, here is news story (with video) from Rock Hill, S.C. on a major street enhancement project that included a requirement that businesses replace large signs with a more appropriate 50 square foot limit.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Garbage in, garbage out

photo: Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight

Previous posts have decried the environmental damage the billboard industry inflicts upon clean air and the night sky. But billboards are also literally trash on a stick. It is estimated that every year, over 3 million billboard ads get trashed in America's landfills, generating over 10,000 tons of non bio-degradable vinyl.
While most of us wouldn't think of tossing out trash from our car windows, we really don't consider the environmental costs of billboards. These ads may have a "useful" life of a few months to get you to switch your wireless service or buy a supersized soft drink, but the vinyl is an environmental problem lasting virtually forever. Advertisers should give our landfills a break and use less environmentally damaging forms of communication than litter on a stick.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Billboard Industry Offends Working Mothers

The billboard industry executed a massive failure in London with an ad campaign attempting to prove how effective billboards are; instead, they simply offended working mothers with the message "Career women make bad mothers." Shame on these giant corporations, including U.S. based Clear Channel and CBS, for deliberately pushing this nonsense.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Park Ridge Mayor Stands Against Billboards

Billboard proponents are trying to sway city officials in Park Ridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, with an offer of a payment of impact and licensing fees in exchange for the right to erect four 80 foot signs along I-294. The fees could generate in excess of $500,000 over twenty years.

But the mayor is spot on that limited financial benefits that can be gained from allowing billboards is not worth the price of diminished community character. The mayor noted that Planning and Zoning voted unanimously against the proposal, and that the fees would do little for the city over the long run. Of course, as the legal wrangling in Los Angeles instructs, Park Ridge likely would be sued by other billboard companies trying to get in on the action if the proposal were approved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

LA billboard blight awards

The Los Angeles Times today continues its coverage of the billboard litigation in LA, this time with a focus on arguments that the city made unfair deals with certain billboard companies at the expense of others.

Meanwhile, LA-based Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight hands out the First Annual Ban Billboard Blight Awards.