Letters to the Editor

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BILLBOARDS: Limits OK, but ban is too risky

Letter by Kyle Alm, Tacoma on July 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm with 4 Comments »
July 21, 2011 2:38 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. tree_guy says:

    “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.” kyle

    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2011/07/21/billboard-ban-backwards/#ixzz1SmlexV27

    Are you an attorney? If so, how expensive do you think preventing the digitals might be? How can you “guarantee” the expense involved?

    How much is an uncompromised view of the sky and the evening stars worth? Would you argue with equal passion for a clear sky if there were a digital component to it? You seem very impressed with technology.

  2. Classic left-right dichotomy. Do we ban it out right, allow it but regulate it, or allow it without requlations.

  3. Light pollution is real, but lighted traditional billboards, street signs, porch lights are contribute to light pollution.

    I’m not an attorney, I know how much they paid, how many hours are involved with lawsuits. And yes I can guarantee it will be expensive, because the City will be the defendant without any damages to recover.

    If you want to see the stars at night you need to head out of the city, and that isn’t going to change if billboards are banned in Tacoma.

  4. What limits could be enforced? What about the residents who are impacted directly? What about safety issues? Should they be studied first, or should we plunge into this without forethought?

    And perhaps the biggest questions, do we want our city government to broker and enter into an agreement of this magnitude with this PARTICULAR company? What is the business model’s lifespan, really?

    We already have giant digital billboards on I-5. Let’s see how these do first. It’s something we should shelve for now and see what happens at the very least.

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