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City of Tacoma asks court to invalidate its settlement with Clear Channel

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Aug. 19, 2011 at 11:51 am |
August 19, 2011 11:51 am

Now that Tacoma has banned digital billboards, the city has asked a Pierce County judge to declare its settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor invalid.

Clear Channel signed the agreement last month, a year after city leaders signed it and long after it became clear the City Council was considering action much different than what the agreement called for. The Seattle outdoor advertising company said it signed the agreement to remind the city of its obligations particularly about compensation.

In a court filing yesterday, lawyers on behalf of the City of Tacoma argue that the settlement agreement is unenforceable because of the digital billboard ban.

“Clear Channel’s rights under the Agreement are contingent upon the City enacting a new billboard ordinance consistent with the terms of the Agreement,” the court filing reads. “The city has not enacted such an ordinance. … The question regarding whether the City is bound by the Agreement is a real and existing controversy.”

City attorney Elizabeth Pauli said this morning that the invalidation request was an “independent, proactive, affirmative step to clear any hurdles for enforcement of our ordinance that’s in place.”

That new ordinance, passed last week, calls for quickly removing at least 190 billboards, and possibly dozens more. It tightens zoning restrictions, sets a new deadline for removing signs that don’t comply and ban the modern versions of billboards that switch messages electronically.

Read more in tomorrow’s News Tribune.

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