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Seattle v. Tacoma in billboard wars: How about billboards on top of skyscrapers?

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Aug. 9, 2010 at 9:35 am with 1 Comment »
August 9, 2010 8:43 am

Over at Crosscut, architect Mark Hinshaw writes about a so-far under-the-radar move by some Seattle bureaucrats to legalize building-top billboards.

The pathway would be an amendment to the city sign code that was slowed down only when an activist noticed and started sounding the alarm.

This little amendment would allow any commercial tenant to affix four lighted signs, each 350 square feet (roughly the size of two parking stalls) to the top of its building. City staff estimate there are 10 buildings with tenants large enough to qualify. And get this: the City has issued a statement declaring there would be no significant impact.

Hinshaw is an architect and urban planner who drafted Tacoma’s Destination Downtown urban development code.

Tacoma’s city council recently approved a settlement of a lawsuit by Clear Channel that sets the stage for an ordinance permitting digital video billboards. The digital signs would come in trade for the removal of static billboards that had been banned by a 1997 city ordinance.

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. I can’t imagine approving something like that, but the language Crosscut uses is misleading. The term “no significant impact” has a very specific meaning in the context of a SEPA determination. SEPA examines impact to the environment, historic preservation, traffic, etc. It’s pretty rare to get a determination of significance which basically means “you can’t do this.” Sometimes you can get a Mitigated Determination of Significance (MDNS) which means there are impacts but they have been accounted for and dealt with. A determination of non-significance (DNS) would not take into account the visual aesthetic. Staff can even issue a DNS but recommend disapproval… happens all the time, particularly in the case of a code change that seems inconsistent with other policies.

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