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.