Tomorrow, Tacomans will have another chance to address their city council about digital billboards.
The council has scheduled a public hearing strictly about an emergency moratorium, adopted in May, on new billboards. The moratorium was put in place in response to overwhelming public response against an agreement the council approved last year with Clear Channel Outdoor that would allow the company to put up new digital signs in exchange for removing existing conventional ones.
During the public hearing, which is scheduled to start at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, only comments on the moratorium will be allowed. But people can address the larger digital billboard issue during the citizen forum later in the meeting, said city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff. The citizens forum is held during council meetings on the second Tuesday of the month.
The council also will consider an ordinance that makes an exception to the moratorium for changes to billboards because of safety issues or to comply with federal or state laws.
The hearing and the forum are part of the council’s regular meeting, beginning at 5 p.m. in its chambers, on the first floor of 747 Market St.
The billboard issue has riled the public for a year, after the city council, with little public notice, unanimously voted to approve a settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor that would allow the company to build up to 38 digital billboards in exchange for removing about 250 conventional ones and giving up permits for about 170 more.
The settlement was an attempt to resolve a dispute over a city ordiance from 1997, which called for phasing out big, ugly and disruptive signs by Aug. 1, 2007. Before the deadline came, Clear Channel sued the city. As part of the deal, Clear Channel promised not to continue its lawsuit.
But most of the public is against the settlement. The moratorium emerged just before the planning commission was going to recommend banning digital billboards in Tacoma.