Scenic Watch
Citizens for a Scenic Florida

September 18, 2010

In the News: Bill Brinton 

“On the Other Hand: Rethinking Shelter Advertising"

"The citizens of many cities in this country desire to improve their communities’ appearances and to reduce sign clutter along roadways. In November 2009, an overwhelming majority of voters in San Francisco approved a ballot initiative to halt the placement of ads on transit furniture. Cities like Houston, TX and Arlington, VA, hard at work in improving their communities’ appearance, do not allow advertising on transit furniture.

While some cities do allow curbside advertisements that target passing drivers, the fact is that the ads distract drivers from the task of driving, diverting their attention to ads for fast food, personal injury lawyers, and an array of commercial products and services. In 2008, an expert for Clear Channel Outdoor noted the distraction caused by such advertisements because they force drivers to read them at shorter distances than billboards.

The City of Orlando still prohibits advertisements on downtown shelters because city leaders know that beauty is good for business. There is no doubt that roadside ads erode a community’s interest in visual enhancement. In December 2009, a federal court in New Jersey observed that a city’s interest in aesthetics was diminished by allowing an exemption for bus shelter advertising.


Photos: Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL : Then and Now


Photo: Josh Green,

In Jacksonville, voters went to the polls in 1987 to approve a citizens’ initiative to halt further billboard construction. It should be no surprise that Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, Greenscape, The City Beautiful Coalition, Inc. and other visual enhancement and neighborhood organizations vigorously opposed plans to place advertising on bus shelters that will admittedly “target” Jacksonville residents and drivers. Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Board Chair acknowledged that these ads will increase visual clutter, and opened the door to discussions to find alternatives. This was a good sign (pardon the pun).

Some neighborhoods were exempted from the controversial scheme, while other neighborhoods were not spared. But if some parts of a city are free to advance the goal of beautification, shouldn’t all parts have that opportunity?

One does not need to diminish roadside beauty to improve transportation amenities. It is a false choice.

Just as landscaping and streetscaping are part of sound transportation planning, street furniture should also be taken into account and not made into the Yellow Pages.

Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said that cities should be surrounded continuously by a maximum of beauty. The battle for beauty repeats itself over and over as citizens struggle to improve their communities. Transportation planners and agencies must pay close attention to this struggle, and reject any scheme that does not advance both beauty and transportation. They are not mutually exclusive.

In his last public appearance before his death, the late Charles Kuralt spoke these words: “America does not belong to the franchisers and the developers and spoilers who do not give a damn about their country. The land is ours. Ordinary Americans, I am persuaded of this with all my heart, ordinary Americans want a beautiful country.”

Here is an open question for the transportation community: will you give ordinary Americans a beautiful country or one that is awash in clutter and visual pollution?

-- by Bill Brinton via


Fun Festivals and Events

North Florida

Sept 18-19
Spanish American War Event, Fernandina Beach
Sept 19
Old Time Dance at O'Leno, High Springs
Sept 23-25
Quiltfest 2009, Jacksonville
Sept 24-26
Pensacola Seafood Festival, Pensacola
Sept 25
Marion County Springs Festival, Dunnellon
Oct 2
Central Florida Harvest and Peanut Festival, Williston
Oct 2
Fall Festival, High Springs
Oct 3-10
Amelia Island Jazz Festival, Fernandina Beach
Oct 7-9
Third Annual Fall Palatka Bluegrass Festival, Palatka
Oct 8-10
Seafood, Wine and Music Festival, Panama City Beach
Oct 8-10
Annual Greek Festival, St. Augustine
Oct 15-17
Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival, Niceville
Oct 15-17
Blast on the Bay Songwriter Festival, Port St. Joe
Oct 15-17
Suwannee River Quilt Show and Sale, White Springs

Central  Florida
Sept 17-19
27th Annual Raft Race Weekend, Homosassa
Sept 18
Classic Auto, Bike and Truck Show, St. Petersburg
Sept 24-26
New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival, New Smyrna Beach
Sept 25-26
Fiesta del Coqui, Orlando
Oct 1-2
Ranch Rodeo Finals and Cowboy Heritage Festival, Kissimmee
Music Fest, Winter Garden
Oct 1-3
Super Boat National Championship, Clearwater Beach
Oct 1-3
Melbourne Main Street Fall Festival, Melbourne
Oct 7-10
36th Annual Bicycle Festival, Mount Dora
Oct 9-10
37th Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, Winter Park
Oct 13-17
Ringling International Arts Festival, Sarasota
Oct 14-17
Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Clearwater
Oct 14-17
Melbourne Oktoberfest, Melbourne
South  Florida
Sept 17-19
Martin County Nautical Flea Market and Seafood Festival, Stuart
Sept 22-26
Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, Marathon and Lower Keys
Oct 1-10
16th Annual Oktoberfest, Coral Gables
Oct 2-3
Downtown Delray Beach Craft Festival, Delray Beach
Oct 8-30
Festival Miami 2010, Miami
Oct 8-10
Pirate Festival, Fort Myers Beach
Oct 9-10
Peace River Boat Show and Flatsmasters Series Championship, Port Charlotte
Oct 9-10
Second annual Coconut Creek Craft Festival, Coconut Creek
Oct 9-10
Columbus Day Regatta 2010, Key Biscayne
Oct 10
Miami Carnival Parade and Festival, Miami
Oct 12-26
South Florida Theatre Festival, Miami

ClearChannel Spent $1.37M on lobbying in 2Q

CBS Spent $800k in 2Q


"Clear Channel Communications Inc. spent $1.37 million in the second quarter to lobby the federal government on a proposal to pay recording artists and labels royalties for song play on traditional radio stations and other issues..... The association also lobbied the government on congressional oversight of digital billboards...."

-- Bloomberg Businessweek

"...According to a filing with Congress, the issues Clear Channel’s lobbyists have been talking to legislators about include broadcast localism, ownership rules, decency, Fairness Doctrine, spectrum policies, the DISCLOSE Act, performance royalties, broadcast monitoring, congressional oversight of digital billboards and broadcast advertising.

...CBS Corp. ... spent $800,000 in its second quarter on a lengthy list of legislation affecting its radio, TV and other media businesses. Its total at the half-year for 2010 is about $2.3 million, compared to $2.2 million at this point last year."

-- Radio World



Lamar Defaults on

Sarasota Contract


"Ten years ago, the city of Sarasota signed a contract with Lamar Advertising Co., making the company the sole provider of public bus shelters in Sarasota.

The agreement called for Lamar to install 50 shelters. Now a decade later, only 19 shelters have been placed, and three of those are no longer on active SCAT bus routes.

Furthermore, the city has tried to communicate with the company for nearly a year to discuss its failure to live up to the contract and has received no response.

One hour before city staff was set to present these facts to the City Commission, a Lamar executive called the neighborhood and development services department and said it will still install all 50 shelters and wants its contract extended...

Commissioners decided to allow the contract to expire and see if SCAT wanted to install in its own shelters."



Photos From Blogs:

COOOOOOL Bus Shelters in Siberia


Russian Bus Stop
Russian Bus StopRussian Bus Stop


News From Across the Nation




Grand Rapids - Give ONE company an inch....CBS sues and wins right to get a billboard based on Lamar's previously approved billboard.

Phoenix - Political Billboard is turned off between 11pm and sunrise in accordance with Phoenix's Dark Sky Ordinance. " The Sounds of Silence: Dougherty’s Digital Billboards Light Up the Phoenix Sky."

Bellingham - Details on the rules for advertising on Bus Shelters. "WTA advances plan for expanded advertising on buses, shelters"

Rapid City - UPDATE - "City council enacts another billboard moratorium"

".. no use in additional regulations if the city was not going to approve any new billboards."

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