Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Digital billboards


Legislature to consider allowing digital billboards along Washington highways; hearings next week

Legislation that would allow digital billboards along state highways is bubbling up again in Olympia.

Both the House and Senate are considering changes to state law. Each body’s transportation committee has scheduled a hearing on the measures for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Electronic signs aren’t allowed along state highways. The legislation maintains existing limits on signs, including keeping them in industrial and commercial areas. Digital signs also couldn’t have flashing or moving lights – the message would have to be static.

Clear Channel Outdoor put up its newest digital billboard last week in Tukwila, on city owned property near the

Read more »


Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano details Clear Channel’s failed attempts to win digital billboard approval in King County, Washington state

Eric Scigliano has been watching the digital billboard issue from a statewide perspective and provides a good update on Clear Channel’s lobbying at the King County courthouse and in Olympia.

His report on Crosscut shows how the company was close to winning approval in unincorporated King County but the council has now tabled the ordinance. It has also been unsuccessful in winning approval from the state.

Even Clear Channel — which is owned by Bain Capital (of Mitt Romney fame) and other private equity partners — does not possess unlimited persuasive powers. Late last month both King County and

Read more »


Clear Channel finalizes billboard settlement as reminder for Tacoma council

With the Tacoma City Council backtracking on its legal settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor, the company said it has signed the agreement and officially put it into effect.

The council unanimously approved the settlement that allows Clear Channel to erect digital billboards in exchange for taking down traditional signs. After public complaints, the council backed off. It’s now considering an explicit ban on digital billboards and ordering Clear Channel to take down its traditional signs that violate city laws, as part of a revamp of the sign code.

The settlement says in the event of such a removal order, “the city will compensate Clear Channel for the fair market value of those interests.”

Clear Channel spokesman Tim Thompson said by signing the agreement this week, the company reaffirms its support for the settlement and reminds the city about that requirement for “compensation.”

“The steps the City Council was taking were obviously contradictory to the agreement,” Thompson said.

The company has threatened to sue if the agreement is violated. Thompson declined to talk about future lawsuits; the company remains open to negotiation, he said.

Here’s Clear Channel’s news release and the agreement:



Study: Digital billboards aren’t as green as you might think

Last summer, we wrote about a City of Tacoma settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor to allow the company to replace scores of existing billboards with fewer digital ones, under an exchange formula hammered out by lawyers on both sides.

That settlement now hinges on the City Council’s actions to update an existing city ordinance that regulates billboards, and whether the council will implement the changes needed in city code to allow new digital billboards in Tacoma.

Last week, city staff outlined a tentative schedule for the ordinance update that factors in months of review by the council, the city’s planning commission and the public. It pegs the council’s final adoption of the updated code sometime in July.

In the settlement documents, one of the primary rationales offered by the city for negotiating the deal with Clear Channel was that it would “benefit the public health, safety and welfare of the City,” in part by “enabling the use of new and greener materials and technology in sign structures.”

But are digital really all that green?

According to a new study, they’re not. Today, The New York Times’ “Green,” blog noted the study’s basic findings:
Read more »