Billboard meeting tonight.

Gary Leitzell (who is running for Mayor) is turning into our local Lady Bird Johnson. Johnson was a primary mover in stopping billboards on Interstate highways in the 60’s because they were ruining the landscape.

Same argument could be made for all kinds of things from power lines to cell towers, to wind turbines. Personally, I think the wind turbines along I-10 by Palm Springs are a sight to behold- others, who saw the area before the towers look at them as a pox.

Gary is telling everyone to come out against the proposed new electronic billboard because it doesn’t fit in the box. The first meeting is tonight:

The meeting is Wednesday Feb. 11, 2009 at 6:15. Location is the SEPB office at 2160 E. Fifth at Columbus. Get there by 6:00 PM if you wish to speak. You have to sign in in order to talk.

Key Ads can put electronic billboards up in compliance with the ordinance that they helped write. This particular billboard does not comply and requires not one but three variances in order to be placed at Todd Street. The details are here

http://weirs.dns2go.com/garyleitzell/wgnetwork/toddstreet.pdf

If they are willing to make greater concessions than orginally (sic) suggested, to me that is a sign of desperation. To conceed (sic) to an act of apparent desperation would be poor judgement by the citizens.

If you are interested, read the details and attend the land use meeting. I will be there.

via Downtown Hockey Arena.

He’s not alone in his issues. The same things are being discussed across the country. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a story today about Cleveland halting new boards:

Under the existing law, for every 672-square-foot electronic billboard the company puts up, older billboards totaling two or more times the amount of space must come down elsewhere. An electronic panel is more than double the size of most traditional billboards.

The “or more” wording has been key to the anti-billboard crowd, which has used the vague language to its advantage. To the frustration of Clear Channel, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals has at times demanded a half-dozen or so old boards be torn down in exchange for a new electronic board.

via Cleveland officials considering halt to new digital billboards – Page 2 – Cleveland.com.

Billboards are easy to hate. Especially when what we end up seeing are a lot of badly designed ads by local car dealers, say nothing ads by local hospitals barely balance the occasional nice looking ads by jewelery stores. The reality is- local independent businesses increasingly will need access to inexpensive, unavoidable outdoor advertising if they want to stay in business.

Make sure to also read this post: Electronic Billboards and You.

Instead of worrying so much about the boards size, shape, etc. maybe we should be requiring that at least 20% of the ad time goes to local independent business at a discounted rate and 10% to community non-profits in exchange for variances.

Remember, shooting the messenger every time can leave you cut off from the community. Billboards are one of the last effective messengers for local business.

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