I do not believe an outright ban on digital billboards in Tacoma is appropriate. We can’t simply “ban” technology. We can’t ban the use of the Internet. We can’t ban the use of cell phones. Furthermore, we can’t ban digital advertising; it is already here.
This whole discussion just appears backwards to me. Appropriate regulation for zoning, size, light intensity and image-rotation time will all limit the adverse effects of signage that have been brought up in public comment. Overreaching on a ban, when there are less restrictive options, is inappropriate and almost certain to land the city in court.
I’m not one to back down from a challenge, legal or otherwise, but going to court is uncertain and a judge would have to overturn precedent on free speech. That is not likely, but it is guaranteed to be expensive. Thirty-eight digital signs is a livable number when you consider that 10 times that number of traditional display advertising will come down.
I urge the city to embrace the technology. Establish appropriate limits to digital billboards, avoid the neighborhoods and negotiate an appropriate number for the City of Tacoma. And keep resources focused on redevelopment of the old City Hall and attracting more businesses downtown.