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Tag: Clear Channel Outdoor


Clear Channel exec: City’s proposed billboard moratorium could lead to “costly litigation”

As we reported on Friday,  the Tacoma City Council is planning to consider tomorrow a 6-month moratorium on any new billboards in the city.

It’s a move some council members say is meant to buy them and other city officials more time in considering controversial changes to the city’s billboard regulations.

(If approved, the proposed moratorium won’t affect an approaching deadline for accepting the terms of a settlement agreement now facing the city. Under the settlement, Clear Channel Outdoor could build up to 38 new digital billboards if it removes up to 253 conventional ones and gives up permits to about 160 more.  The advertising company in turn would agree not to pursue a lawsuit against the city. The city has until Aug. 15 to pass new billboard regulations that would allow for the settlement’s terms.)

When word of the proposed moratorium broke on Friday, I called Olivia Lippens, President of Clear Channel Outdoor’s Seattle division, for comment.  She told me she had just learned of the proposed moratorium and had not had the chance to review or discuss it with city officials.  Once she did that, Lippens said, she’d provide me with a statement.

This afternoon, Lippens emailed me her statement.  The gist of it?  Clear Channel is none-too-happy with the moratorium idea. And, once again, the company is threatening to sue.

Here’s Lippens’ full statement:

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Tacoma: Council to consider moratorium on new billboards as way to “buy more time”

In a move some council members see as buying more time to consider a complex issue, the Tacoma City Council will consider an ordinance Tuesday that calls for up to a six month moratorium on any new conventional or digital billboards in the city.

The proposal specifically seeks an “immediate moratorium on the acceptance of applications for the installation, erection, construction, replacement, modification, or improvement of static or changing electronic, digital, or changeable message billboards in all zoning districts.”

It’s meant as a way to more thoughtfully contemplate the complicated issues surrounding proposed billboard regulation changes and a settlement offer with Clear Channel Outdoor, Councilman Spiro Manthou said today.

“We’re trying to give the council more time to study the issue,” Manthou said. “I think the feeling among council is when we do this (new legislation), whatever we do we want to get it right.”

But if the proposed moratorium is approved, it would not change a deadline facing the council for the proposed settlement with Clear Channel, City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said today.

Under that settlement offer, the city has until August 15 to adopt legislation that allows for the terms laid out in the  agreement, Pauli said. The agreement, drafted last July, provides a framework under which the city would allow Clear Channel to erect up to 38 digital billboards, if it removes up to 253 regular ones and gives up permits to about 160.  In exchange, the billboard company would not pursue a lawsuit against the city.

If the settlement deadline comes and goes without a new ordinance that allowing for its terms — regardless if there’s a moratorium in place — Clear Channel could simply walk away and potentially reactive its lawsuit, Pauli said.

“If the council’s process for adoption of the legisltaiton goes beyond that (Aug. 15) deadline, Clear Channel can say to us … `We’re not in anymore,’” Pauli said.

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