Scenic Watch
Citizens for a Scenic Florida

April 2, 2010

Digital Billboards Hit Roadblock:
Among the state and local governments limiting them:
Amarillo, TX
Fort Worth
Gilbert, AZ
Knoxville, TN
Largo, FL
Pima County, AZ
St. Petersburg, FL
San Francisco

Moratoriums on New Digital Billboards
El Paso
Los Angeles
Minnetonka, MN
Oakdale, MN
Pinellas County, FL
San Antonio
St. Louis

Considering Moratoriums
 Source: USA Today ref to Scenic America

 City Government News:
More Cities Ban Digital Billboards

"Several communities have banned digital billboards outright, the most recent being Denver earlier this month (March). Other places have put a moratorium on them pending a federal study on whether they distract drivers."
-- Larry Copeland, USA TODAY 

Breaking News: 
St. Petersburg 
Council of Neighborhood Associations (C.O.N.A) Affirms Position on Digital Billboards

"The C.O.N.A. Board has given due consideration to the February 25, 2010 draft proposal to swap out non-conforming static billboards for eight new digital billboards within the City, receiving presentations from C.O.N.A's Land Development and Historic Preservation Committee and Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.
After hearing from both parties and allowing for Q&A and discussion the CONA Board reaffirmed it's previous position AGAINST the city’s adoption of the proposal at this time due to concerns over safety, impact on the city's image, environmental downsides, and economic and legal risks. " - Scenic St. Petersburg
Go to's website to read the text of the C.O.N.A. letter with the recommendations to the city council.
Breaking News:
Homeowners will not oppose Digital Billboards

"Opposition from the Tampa group, which represents dozens of homeowner associations, is a major hurdle for ... two companies, which have been in talks with city officials for the past year on a proposed ordinance to regulate digital billboards.
'In a perfect world, we wouldn't have any billboards' said homeowners group vice president Randy Barron."
"Council members reached Wednesday said they hadn't seen the letter from the homeowners group but expressed concerns that the city wasn't involved. 'Until we've got it on the record, it's not a done deal,' said council Chairman Tom Scott. Councilman John Dingfelder said the board needs to decide whether it wants to allow digital billboards in the city at all before it decides how many or where they could be installed.

'We have even crossed that threshold yet,' he said.

City Attorney Chip Fletcher said the city's legal department is reviewing the proposed changes to determine whether they can be worked into a final draft of the digital ordinance. " - Christian M. Wade, Tampa Tribune
Light Trespass Issue:

International Dark Sky Association
Members of their organization joined in at a recent meeting about digital billboards, so we thought we would let you know about their organization.
"Darkness is as essential to our biological welfare, to our internal clockwork, as light itself."

 -Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Our Vanishing Night," National Geographic magazine, November 2008
When it comes to light pollution and designing lighting/signs to minimize the impact, these folks have resources online and members in communities across the world.  Activities include a program to approve fixtures as "Dark-sky Friendly".

Experience:  Rapid City
AFTER a digital signs swap deal, industry claims it is unfair.

"....Brendan Casey, Epic’s president, told aldermen the current rules essentially require them to sacrifice private property in order to expand their business.
Mayor Alan Hanks came out hard against electronic billboards last week in proposing a 120-day moratorium on all new billboards and electronic business signs. He says billboard companies are taking advantage of a 'loophole' in the city’s sign code to convert traditional billboards into digital message centers that show multiple advertisements every minute.

Sign code says for each billboard a company puts up, they have to take down two. But the rule doesn’t apply if you’re just switching out the old model for the new one.  Hanks says the increased number of advertisements, plus the increased possibility for driver distraction, are reason enough to have to give up at least two billboards elsewhere.

The council passed a 90-day version of the moratorium Monday, but not before the city’s major billboard companies, Lamar and Epic Outdoor Advertising, weighed in.

Many communities in the region have taken a strong stance against L.E.D. billboards – a few cities in Minnesota, the state of Montana and Denver have all enacted bans or moratoriums in the last few years." - Emilie Rusch, Rapid City Journal

New Technology:
Digital Billboards Reading License Plates?
Castrol Withdraws Ads

"...the signs have proved controversial, including digital billboards Castrol set up in London in September. Equipped with cameras, the signs read the passing license plates, accessed a database that revealed the automobile's model and year and flashed the drivers a message about what type of oil their vehicles should use.

The ads were blasted as intrusive and a unsafe distraction;  Castrol halted them after a few days." - Steve  Johnson, San Jose Mercury News

Other News: 
Clear Channel Spent $819,000 in 4Q Lobbying 
New digit al signs popping up through Edmonton could be creating dangerous distractions for drivers, a city report suggests.

New Technology - New Thinking?:

Be First on the National Billboards-May-Not-Talk-to-Me List

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