St Johns: “Clear Channel pulls proposal for 2-year digital billboards pilot program amid opposition”

St Johns: “Clear Channel pulls proposal for 2-year digital billboards pilot program amid opposition”

Photo: Bob Mack

“It’s back to the drawing board for Clear Channel and other outdoor media owners in St. Johns County after the company withdrew its bid last week for a digital billboards pilot program along Interstate 95…

Clear Channel formally backed out Friday via a letter sent to commissioners…”
— Jake Martin, The St. Augustine Record
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William D. Brinton Celebration and Endowment in Jacksonville

William D. Brinton Celebration and Endowment in Jacksonville

Photo: Leah Powell
Bill Brinton has spent a lifetime as a protector of unspoiled views. He has successfully battled local, state and national forces bent on visual assault caused by installation of outdoor advertising and other unsightly intrusions.

He believes in the power of citizens to take a stand for the irreplaceable resources that matter most. Because of his foresight, you can be part of a mobilized citizenry that ensures our scenic surroundings for generations to come.

Bill chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the successful Jacksonville City Charter Amendment banning new billboards and removing more than 1,400 existing billboards with the creation of the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville.

When fully funded, this endowment will enable Scenic Jacksonville — also celebrating its 30th anniversary — to continue its vital work to preserve the breathtaking views we cherish and provide support for new projects that enhance our much-loved home.

It is Bill’s vision to raise $300,000 for the endowment, which is held at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. His dream is to see it provide perpetual funding for the things he holds most dear: civic engagement, advocacy, and education.

He’s eager to involve the next generation by sponsoring photo and essay contests to instil a love of our natural surroundings in young citizens.

There is so much more we can do together if we rally around Bill’s visionary leadership and ultimate victory over unsightly signage.

For more information about the fund, please contact Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida at(904) 356-4483 or

To contribute to the Scenic Jacksonville Endowment to Protect and Enhance Scenic Beauty in Jacksonville, go to and enter Scenic Jacksonville into the Search box.”
Save the Date: May 17 for a Celebration in Jacksonville
Visit the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

–Scenic Jacksonville

Artist replaces billboards with photos of the landscapes they’re blocking behind the billboards

Artist replaces billboards with photos of the landscapes they’re blocking behind the billboards

Photos: Lance Gerber Studio

“Visible Distance / Second Sight is an art installation by Jennifer Bolande for DesertX. The temporary artwork can be found along the Gene Autry Trail near Vista Chino (33°50’41.70”N 116°30’21.02”W), where a series of consecutive billboards have been replaced by perfectly aligned photos of the landscapes they are blocking.

bb.mountains artist background1
From the DesertX project page:

Each photograph is unique to its position along this route and at a certain point as one approaches each billboard, perfect alignment with the horizon will occur thus reconnecting the space that the rectangle of the billboard has interrupted.

In the language of billboard advertising this kind of reading is referred to as a Burma-Shave after the shaving cream company of the same name who used sequential placement to create messaging that could be read only from a moving vehicle.

Within the desert empire of roadside signs, Bolande chooses to advertise the very thing so often overlooked. Looking up at the billboards our attention is drawn back to the landscape itself, pictured here as a stuttering kinesthetic of real and artificial horizons…”
Read entire article and see additional photos here

“St. Johns County PZA recommends no-go on proposed digital billboards pilot program”

Photo:The St. Augustine Record

“The writing could be on the wall for the idea of allowing digital billboards in St. Johns County….

The Planning and Zoning Agency on Thursday excluded the component, which would include implementation of a two-year pilot program along Interstate 95, from its 5-1 recommendation to approve changes to signage regulations in the Land Development Code.

Board member Jon Woodard was alone in dissent, questioning whether the electric signs would be any more dangerous than traditional boards lit up at night and touting some potential benefits for business owners unable to take advantage of traditional boards due to cost or availability.

While industry representatives said going digital is another sign of the times, residents speaking in opposition said the boards are distracting by nature, costly and pose increased safety and environmental hazards over their canvas counterparts.
County staff had recommended approval of a two-year test run ‘to allow time for multiple electronic billboards to be erected and observed, then assessing the strengths and possible downsides of the program.’

The proposed changes would allow billboards using light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, to project multiple advertisements on a single billboard. Those advertisements would remain static on the billboard no less than eight seconds before changing, on an automated basis, to a different advertisement. Provisions would be included to prohibit animation, flashing, or the appearance of moving objects on the face of the billboards. Locations of digital billboards would be along ‘appropriately zoned’ parcels adjacent to I-95. There are also several limitations regarding separation between signs, distance from existing structures, as well as size and brightness…
Nelson said he didn’t find any compelling evidence regarding safety hazards either way, but that he opposed the program due to some lingering concerns.

‘It’s not really a pilot program because we’re stuck with these,’ he said. ‘We should be darn sure that’s what we want because there’s no going back.’

Joseph Cearley, special projects manager for the county, told PZA members just four existing, conforming boards along I-95 had been identified as eligible for replacement by a digital board for the pilot, all of which were owned by one outdoor media company.

Martin said the county would risk facilitating a monopoly if it went ahead with the pilot program under the current parameters and allowing only one company to benefit. (The board recommended the County Commission address this issue and others if it decides to move forward with a pilot program.)

There were other battles.

The program would feature a points-based swap-down system requiring removal of four to five traditional billboards for every one digital sign installed. Swap-down standards would apply to instances where a new digital billboard is installed or a digital billboard replaces a conforming traditional billboard. Nonconforming traditional billboards that have been grandfathered in would not be replaced with new digital billboards.

According to county documents, the current swap-down system for traditional boards has already reduced the number of active billboards within the county from 579 in the year 2000 to 301 in 2015, for an overall reduction of 278…
Existing signs are expected to be grandfathered in as nonconforming signs and held to certain limitations.,,

The PZA’s recommendations and comments will be forwarded to the County Commission, which is expected to revisit the items at its April 4 meeting for a third and final hearing, required by statute to start after 5 p.m.”

– Jake Martin, The St. Augustine Record

Jackson County: County considers allowing off-premise electronic billboards and setting rules of use

Off-premise electronic billboards are still prohibited in Jackson County, but that could change if the notion of making them legal gains more traction and board agreement is reached about the distance that must lie between such signs and residential areas.

Jackson County Commissioners had directed planning staffers to bring the matter to the planning commission for a re-evaluation of the issue. Last week, county commissioners considered adding an ordinance amendment crafted as a result of that directive, a proposal allowing and regulating such signs…”

–Deborah Buckhalter , Jackson County Floridian

Pasco County:  Ending two years of debate, Pasco okays digital billboard swap

Pasco County: Ending two years of debate, Pasco okays digital billboard swap

Photo: Tampa Bay Times

“…After nearly two years of public workshops and negotiations with billboard companies, commissioners voted unanimously to allow the firms to take down static billboards and replace them with high-tech digital light-emitting diode billboards that can rotate messages.

Under the ordinance, the number of new digital signs will be capped at 37. And for each one installed, the billboard companies must remove the equivalent of six existing signs, based on square footage.

‘I think less is better for the county and the community, but still give people the opportunity to advertise,” said commission Chairman Mike Moore.

The 6-to-1 swap was greater than what industry representatives said they could accept in November. But it also was a reduction from the 10-to-1 ratio the county proposed two months ago. The messages on the signs can be rotated every 15 seconds, about half the frequency the billboard sign companies originally wanted.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who, as a citizen activist, was instrumental in the county banning new billboards nearly 18 years ago, acknowledged she was nervous about amending the ordinance, and was skeptical about the industry’s motives.

‘I’m worried they’re going to take down all the little ones and keep up all these monsters,’ Starkey said.

She acquiesced, however, and said she had faith that the end product would improve the county’s aesthetics.

The ultimate goal for the county is to remove some of the 509 billboard structures along local roads. If the companies install all 37 digital signs, measuring 672 feet each, the county could see more than a 60 percent reduction in roadside billboards, to 188 structures.

‘It could take decades,’ said Senior Assistant County Attorney Elizabeth Blair, who drafted the ordinance. ‘But 188 structures versus 509 now, that’s a huge difference.”

The county banned new billboards in 1999 amid public blowback against sign proliferation. However, in the weeks leading up to adoption of the ordinance, companies and private landowners flooded Pasco with permit applications for new signs.

In 2010, Clear Channel Outdoors, which has about a quarter of the billboard market in Pasco, got a cold shoulder from the county when it approached the commission about a digital swap. After the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg and Pinellas County approved similar ordinances, Clear Channel broached the topic again with the Pasco commission in early 2015 and found a more receptive audience.

Under the new ordinance, digital signs will be limited to U.S. 19, U.S. 41, State Roads 52 and 54 and Interstate 75, and half of the removed signs must come from those same roads. The only difference is along U.S. 19, where all new digital billboards must be must be accompanied by the removal of six billboards from the same road because of the county’s efforts to redevelop the west-side corridor.’

— C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times , Tampa Bay Times

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