It is unfortunate that Clear Channel Outdoor has taken such a backward position regarding billboards in Tacoma. Most readers probably don’t realize that this international company has been a leader in green Europe including setting up on-street bike-rental programs in such cities such as Barcelona and Milan as well as promoting sophisticated pedestrian-oriented signage and street furniture.
Abroad, CCO has show that it can be very progressive, developing a variety of different signage types including vertical signs that fit well with bus and transit shelters and pedestrian shopping streets.
Most of its more sophisticated-looking European signs are smaller static backlit or fabric signs, unlike its proposed 10 monstrous 672-square-foot freeway- sized digital billboards originally proposed for installation in Tacoma’s new pedestrian-oriented mixed-use districts, such as those along portions of Sixth Avenue, Pacific Avenue downtown, South 38th Street and South 56th Street.
Apparently, jumbo-sized digital billboards, that on average consume the equivalent electricity of 13 single-family homes a year per face, are frowned upon across “the pond.”
Clear Channel obviously has the experience and products to be able to do a sophisticated, pedestrian-oriented, off-premise signage program here in Tacoma, if it chooses. Why it hasn’t is unclear.
Our City Council should make sure, if it allows additional off-premise signs such as billboards in Tacoma again, that they are pedestrian rather than vehicular oriented, and have attractive supporting structures rather than those often awful-looking ones like something left over from a 1950s demolition derby.