“Pasco billboard debate reveals continuing signs of discontent”
“Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey didn’t need a billboard to deliver her message about the outdoor advertising industry.
‘I think you guys are being played,’ she told commissioners Mike Moore, Mike Wells Jr. and Jack Mariano. ‘You’re being played by a very savvy industry.’
Starkey’s pointed commentary came during a 100-minute debate last week as commissioners wrestled yet again with an industry-requested proposal to lift the county’s 17-year ban on new billboards. Doing so would allow billboard owners to swap some of their static signs for new, illuminated digital boards with rotating messages.
But, after two public workshops and two public hearings, a commission majority decided they hadn’t heard enough. On a 3-2 vote, the commission delayed the matter until mid January, effectively cutting departing Commissioner Ted Schrader out of the final decision.
‘I don’t see any movement on their part,’ Schrader said of the billboard industry. ‘I’m comfortable with passing this today. Quite frankly, they want something that I’m not willing to give to them.’
Commissioner-elect Ron Oakley, who will replace Schrader as the District 1 board member, assumes office Nov. 29. He sat through the initial public hearing in October.
‘If you gave up five (for one digital), you’re talking about going from 33 (on Interstate 75) to six or seven. You know that looks better, but I’m not sure of the numbers,’ Oakley told the Tampa Bay Times after the commission meeting.
The hearing turned into a public negotiation between Tom O’Neil of Clear Channel Outdoors and the commission over the number of billboards to come down in a swap for new digital boards and how frequently the electronic messages could be rotated. An early version of the proposed ordinance called for removing 14 billboard structures for each new digital sign, but the county staff previously acknowledged that figure was too high.
Last week, the county considered a revised proposal calling for a 10-for-1 swap based on square footage of the signs, rather than billboard structures or sign faces. For instance, a new 672-square-foot digital sign would require a company to take down 6,720 square feet of existing signs. The proposed ordinance would allow the digital messages to rotate every 30 seconds.
Industry representatives, however, panned a square-footage formula — after advocating for it at the prior hearing — and made a counter offer of a 5-for-1 sign-removal ratio, with digital messages rotating every 8 seconds. They also objected to putting the digital signs strictly on state roads, which would exclude new billboards from high-traffic county roads in the affluent Trinity area.
‘They’re telling us what their company will do. That’s backward,’ Starkey told her fellow commissioners. ‘We’re not invested in outdoor media. We’re here to do what’s right for our citizens.’
Starkey, as a private citizen, was instrumental in lobbying commissioners for the billboard ban in 1999. During the hearing, she and Schrader offered an 8-for-1 swap, and Starkey later suggested 7-for-1 without gaining a concession. A representative of Outfront Media, the largest provider of billboards in Pasco County, said he had not been authorized by his company to go beyond a 5-for-1 swap.
According to updated numbers presented at the meeting, the county has 509 billboard structures holding at least 1,018 advertising signs. On state roads, the inventory varies from 133 billboard structures along U.S. 19 to 33 along Interstate 75. Combined, there are 343 billboard structures on those roads plus state roads 52 and 54, U.S. 41 and N Dale Mabry Highway, accounting for nearly 172,000 square feet of advertising space.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, the county will not be rid of static billboards because of the sheer volume of outdoor advertising around Pasco.
‘We will always have static billboards,’ said Elizabeth Blair, senior assistant county attorney. ‘That is the realty of the situation…’
— C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times, Tampa Bay Times
“Digital billboards threaten the beauty of St. Johns County”
Photo: Historic Photo of Courthouse
From Guest Editorial:
“Eighteen years ago, I volunteered to help write the original 1998 sign ordinance. I spent 18 months of my life attending weekly meetings where we discussed, argued and finally compromised with the billboard industry. The agreements we drafted back then have certainly enhanced the scenic beauty of St. Johns County…
At this week’s St. Johns County Commission meeting, staff announced it wants to change our present sign ordinance to comply with a new U.S. Supreme Court decision. Discreetly added to this compliance was a two year trial period of digital billboards along the Interstate 95 corridor. Where is the crying need for these boards? It certainly isn’t coming from the citizens of our county.
I do not have a problem with changing our sign ordinance to be consistent with new case law from the high court. I do have a problem with this stealth attempt to try and include these digital billboards along with these changes. To include both of these items in the sign code revision is both shameless and deceitful. These are two separate issues and should be dealt with at separate times.
The original ordinance has a workable ‘swap down’ provision to limit the blight of billboards in our county. The commission wants to decrease the swap down provision of one new billboard from five (as suggested by staff) to four. Also, after the proposed two-year trial period, who will make the decision if digital billboards should be expanded to other portions of our county? What criteria will they use for their ruling?…
Instead of opening up a new venue for sign blight in our county, let’s continue to reduce the number of billboards along our highways. We have something unique and special here in St. Johns County. Let’s protect and keep it that way! Citizens of St. Johns County, if you oppose these digital billboards, please contact your commissioners or attend the next meeting and let them know your views. This is not Orlando or Jacksonville. This is your county and your opinion does matter.”
— Cliff Skarr, The St. Augustine Record
“So Digital Billboard Ads Change With the Speed of Traffic Now”
“YOU HATE CREEPING through traffic. But advertisers love it, because you’re a captured audience with plenty of time to consume sophisticated messages. If you’re zipping along, they have just a moment to pitch you burgers, or tires, or cloud services. In the days of yore—like, last year—that meant Mad Men had to choose between big visuals targeting leadfoots and text-heavy spots for the rush hour warrior.
Digital billboards supplied with data from Internet services company Inrix lets them deliver both. For five weeks this summer, eight digital billboards along highways in Toronto and Montreal tailored messages to suit how fast people were moving. The multinational food giant Danone was the first to try the new strategy, displaying four ads based on congestion levels, from ‘Moving right along’ to ‘I’m never getting there!’
Inrix has seen companies use its data to trigger two ads, but never four. The copious amount of data flowing from navigation systems and apps made it possible. ‘It’s all part of making digital advertising more and more relevant,’ says Kevin Foreman, who oversees geoanalytics for the company.
Chances are you don’t know you’re contributing oodles of traffic data to Inrix. But you’ll find its software in navi systems favored by Audi, Ford, and Volvo, to name a few. Major fleets like UPS use it, too. And of course Inrix has an app, which competes with Waze. In all, 270 million drivers in 45 countries contribute anonymized travel information to Inrix. The company gives you something in exchange, though: It feeds that raw data into algorithms that help government agencies spot crashes and jams, or aid users in dodging congestion.
Inrix also has a healthy sideline selling that data to outdoor advertising companies (you know, the guys that run billboards), which use it to find new ways of selling you things. Canadian digital billboard supplier Dynamic Outdoor came up with the idea for a campaign based on external data feeds, which would change according to information provided by Inrix and others. (The Danone campaign also changed its copy based on the weather—a hot day translated into an ad featuring a cool, blue pool.)
Essentially, Dynamic Outdoor’s software periodically pinged Inrix servers for real-time traffic updates, then brought Danone’s ad up to speed based on how grueling the commute was.
Did it sell more yogurt? The advertising industry is still developing a data-based standard for measuring billboard effectiveness… Still, plenty of research suggests that people cotton to outdoor ads targeting their specific demographic—race, income level, age, and maybe, rush hour status. By now, you’re used to targeted ads following you around online. They’re coming to your commute, too…”
— Bryan Kowalsky And Minas Panagiotakis, Wired
“St. Petersburg rolls out bike share program”
Photo: Coast Bike Share via Tampa Bay Times
“As the Tampa Bay area continues to grow, it is becoming harder to get around. The city of St. Petersburg is now following Tampa’s lead and changing the face of transportation. On Tuesday, the greater downtown area will get 100 city bikes housed at 10 hubs. This is all part of the Coast Bike Share program that plans to expand its fleet in the coming months.
‘There’s a culture [in St. Pete] that’s really booming with arts, food, and breweries. Everything screams bikes right now,’ said Eric Trull, director for Coast Bike Share. Trull is also in charge of Tampa’s program which has 25,000 members after almost two years. He believes St. Petersburg will have an even bigger response.
‘We really expect it to be larger here, really because of the connectivity and the grid system and trails,’ said Trull.
Downtown businesses hope Trull’s suspicions are correct. Sarah Weaver is the owner of Bandit Coffee off Central Avenue in the Kenwood neighborhood. Her business is at the furthest point on Central where a bike hub will be located.
‘As a business owner since we’re right outside downtown, it really creates a great sense of connection because there is more to our city that just downtown,’ said Weaver.
10 News also spoke to bike shop owners in the downtown area. They told 10 News they are not worried about competition with the bike share program. According to several bike shop owners, these programs can actually help bike shops get the word out about the importance of cycling.
The first 10 hubs will be located along the waterfront and Central Avenue corridor. One of the hubs is off 2nd Avenue next to the St. Petersburg Museum. This is also where the Cross Bay Ferry Terminal will be.
The idea is to provide drivers another option to cross the bay. For example, if there is an accident on the Howard Frankland Bridge, downtown residents could rent a bike and park it at the 2nd Avenue hub. From there, they could take a 50 minute ferry ride into Tampa and rent another bike on that side. The Coast Bike Share membership is reciprocal for St. Pete and Tampa.
The average cost for the program is $8.00/hour prorated. You can also pay monthly or yearly. The Cross Bay Ferry will cost $10.00 one way.
‘We’re trying to get people more options to get around town besides in the car,’ said Evan Mory, the City of St. Petersburg’s Director for Transportation.
Unlike Tampa, the city of St. Pete bought the bikes and infrastructure and will share half of the profit with the operator. Some city council members said the $1.5 million cost could go to other issues like the sewage system or bus routes.
‘We hope and anticipate it to go over very well. We have no reason to believe that we should have concerns about the success in St. Petersburg,’ said Mory.
In the future, Mory hopes to move forward with a complete street project where there would be separate vehicle and bike lanes for downtown.
In the coming months, there will be 300 bikes and 30 stations around the city.”
— Hilary Zalla, WTSP
Boca: “First sharrow placed in city neighborhood”
“The city has installed its first sharrow, a shared lane marking and sign for motorists and bicyclists that could be a model for other neighborhoods with a heavy bike presence…
Developer who supports scenic beauty, buys property and bulldozes billboard!
“This billboard was purchased by a local development company, Dream Designs, Inc. in Rapid City, SD, so that they could take it down, and use the land for housing. They supported Scenic Rapid City in 2011 during the Billboard Initiative.
This billboard was completely non confirming and Grandfathered in. It had two boards on each side. They were two different sizes and OVERSIZED in a prime location; on a hill so that traffic had to view it.
It took away from the scenic beauty of our beautiful Black Hills since it was on the road to Mount Rushmore National Monument but still inside the Rapid City limits.'”
— Scenic Rapid City
Placemaking:”New design ideas shown for rebuilding the Jacksonville Landing”
“After hiring an outside consultant to crystallize a vision for brand-new buildings on the site of The Jacksonville Landing, the Downtown Investment Authority showed off a rendering this week that resembles the concept put forward by the Landing’s owners last year.
— David Bauerlein, Florida Times-Union
Drawing: From Tampa Bay Times
“City planner Jeff Speck’s vision for Tampa’s downtown involves cooler temperatures and more walking. Speck is the lead planner overseeing the team working with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and an engineering firm Stantec to redevelop land in the Channelside area…
“The deceptive nature of architectural renderings”
“Architects use many mediums to express their designs, ideas, and concepts. They use orthographic drawings, physical models, as well as digital models…How can we differentiate between what is reality and what is a false and biased representation of a building? How about photographs of architecture?
Miami: Commission CHANGES SIGN CODE to eliminate advertising towers
Delete. Throw out. Discard. Trash.
“…The measure, championed by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, deletes the term ‘media towers’ from the city’s zoning code known as Miami 21.However, an attorney for Michael Simkins, the Miami Beach-based developer of the innovation tower [Giant LED Billboard Towers], told commissioners that his client plans to move forward with pending permit applications to build the project.’We will continue to implement this development irrespective of what is done today,’ said Tony Recio, a partner with Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman. ‘We look forward to having the permits fairly reviewed and evaluated.’In a statement to The Real Deal, Simkins said he does not believe the new ordinance can be applied to his project. ‘We are disappointed by the commission’s action,’ Simkins said. ‘But we expect the city to comply with the law and respect our rights by honoring the sign permit applications and media tower approval by the CRA, and processing the sign applications in good faith.’City commissioners Frank Carrollo, Willy Gort and Marc Sarnoff again voted in favor of the ordinance despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who was the innovation tower’s main supporter because he believes the project will generate jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for Overtown. ‘That one time things are moving forward in a community that has been stagnant for such a long time, we make sure we put the roadblock right in the middle of it,’ Hardemon said. ‘This is a slap in the face of the Overtown community.’
Simkins has touted the tower as the anchor to a 10-acre technology district that will help revitalize one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hardemon, who represents the district and who is chairman of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Development Agency, backs the project because Simkins has agreed to pay the semi-autonomous city agency $5 million prior to construction, and $1 million, or 3 percent of gross sales generated by the project every year after completion.
Recio also said Simkins has committed to giving local preference to Overtown residents on construction jobs and for the operation of the innovation tower. In June, prior to the city commission’s first vote, Simkins’ company Innovate applied for permits to embed the LED signs within the skin of the proposed tower’s twisting façade and along its pedestal.
— Francisco Alvarado, The Real Deal, South Florida Real Estate News
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