The real problem with billboards is that they are currently obstructing one of Tacoma’s most valuable assets: our skyline.
At a time when Tacoma is looking to boost economic growth, we should leverage everything we can to draw investment. Our skyline, our water and mountain views, the beauty of our trees and our architecture are worth money. They draw talented people to the city. That draws businesses looking for talented employees. They even inspire people to innovate ways of doing business, just to be able to live in a place like this.
Clear Channel Outdoor is not currently helping Tacoma with its billboard business here. It is simply pulling advertising dollars out of the city to send to its out-of-state headquarters.
Clear Channel’s executive argues that it provides free advertising for local nonprofits (Viewpoint, 7-20). However, Clear Channel also has the contract for advertising on Sound Transit. These ads are just as visible as billboards, being directly in the line of sight of drivers, riders and pedestrians.
In Paris, Clear Channel is helping install digital street furniture – bus shelters, benches and bike racks. They deliver changeable advertising in the same way as digital billboards. This puts advertising back on a human scale. It opens up valuable views in the city. Clear Channel should be willing to do the same in Tacoma.
Clear Channel stands to profit greatly off the eyeballs of Tacomans. But Tacoma could be profiting off the views those billboards hide.
There is value in our beauty. Let’s reclaim it.