Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scenic Rapid City collects enough signatures for billboard vote

It appears as though Rapid City, SD voters who go to the polls at the June 7 municipal election will have the chance to limit new billboards in their community.

The new Scenic Rapid City has been working hard to collect enough signatures to trigger the vote, and they were able to gather over 3,000 verified signatures, according to city officials. 

The proposal would ban new digital billboards, following a trend that has included cities such as Denver, Houston, St. Louis and Indianapolis.  It would also double the required distance between new and existing billboards to 2,000 feet and fix their maximum size at 250 square feet.

A second proposal would establish a 20-year expiration date on sign credits, the city's currency for new billboards. City ordinance now grants one sign credit for every billboard taken down and requires two sign credits to be surrendered for every new billboard that goes up.

No branding on the Seattle skyline for now

A proposal to allow corporate signage at the tops of Seattle's downtown office buildings has been tabled for at least a year.

Photo by United States Geological Survey
The idea, which proponents had hoped would pass quickly and with little public scrutiny, instead sparked a series of heated public gatherings where architects, designers and average citizens came out vociferously against the proposal.

Now, the editorial board at the Seattle Times says the idea should be dropped for good:
Seattle's skyline, featuring the Space Needle and tall buildings reflecting shimmery waters of Puget Sound, looks grand as it is. The council should drop this idea permanently.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scenic Pittsburgh sues to have billboard removed

Scenic Pittsburgh has filed a lawsuit demanding that a partially completed electronic billboard atop the city's downtown transportation center be taken down.  The sign started to go up in 2008 before the city revoked the permit when it was revealed that the public process for granting variances had been subverted.

The revelations that a Lamar Outdoor executive had given gifts to Pat Ford, then executive director of the city's Urban Renewal Authority, led to much public outcry and Mr. Ford's eventual resignation.  The sign has remained uncompleted for nearly three years.  Scenic Pittsburgh says it's time for it to come down, and it seems many in the city agree.

Hundreds of thousands of new trees to line historic corridor

As the state of Georgia prepares to allow billboard companies to cut down huge swaths of the public's trees to improve the visibility of their signs, news comes that over 600,000 new trees will be planted along the historic U.S. 15 corridor between Gettysburg, PA and Charlottesville, VA.

Our friends at the Journey Through Hallowed Ground have secured funding for The Living Legacy Project, which will plant one tree for every soldier who perished during the American Civil War, each serving as a living memorial to the 620,000 fallen soldiers.  

Sign owner says digital billboards can be distracting

Craig Heard, owner of Gateway Outdoor Advertising in Michigan, said he knows digital billboards can distract drivers.  "I know, myself, driving down the highway and all the sudden the sign changes, your eye catches it, no doubt," Heard said.

The billboard industry says digital billboards pose no safety hazard and has paid for their own studies to back that up.  Yet at the same time they promote billboards as the "one media that is truly unavoidable." 

Considering that, and knowing that our peripheral vision is particularly sensitive to light and motion, and knowing that any glance away from the road for more than two seconds greatly increases the risk of a crash or near-crash, it seems
counterintuitive to say that digital billboards pose no safety hazard.

Salt Lake City next to ban digital billboards?

by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
It's looking like Salt Lake City will be the next major American city to ban digital billboards.  "It's the mayor's intent to establish a citywide ban on electronic billboards," said Art Raymond, the mayor's spokesman.

Salt Lake City already has six digital billboards within its bounds.  The city is questioning the validity of the permits for three of those, and will attempt to get a 24-hour change time on the others.

By banning digital billboards Salt Lake City will join Denver, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Houston and many other cities and towns, as well as the states of Montana, Alaska, Vermont, Maine and Hawaii.