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Public hearing tomorrow on Tacoma’s billboard moratorium

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on July 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm with 5 Comments »
July 11, 2011 2:00 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Will Spiro be teleconferencing in to the meeting?

  2. skamieniecki says:

    Wish I could attend tomorrow but its hard to drop everything to attend a short notice meeting. For my .02 cents I say the city bans them all and collects the fines due from Clear Channel and close the book on billboards forever. If the indians want to pollute their tribal lands let them, just keep the billboards out of Tacoma.

  3. tree_guy says:

    The citizens have spoken.

    They don’t want the digitals.
    They don’t want the non-conforming static displays.

    The job of the 9 council members is to make this happen. Quit engaging in rhetoric that will not deliver the results Tacomans want and expect. If it means we have to defend our preferences in court then that’s what we’re going to have to do.

  4. Greatcityfan says:

    It’s really a misnomer to call digital billboards “billboards” since they are not static and really are digital displays with images changing every 6 or 8 seconds, and brightness levels 10 to 25 times brighter than most static billboards.

    This is an entirely new (visually demanding, energy consuming) medium (more analogous to huge home digital TVs) and should be treated as such. It is for this reason that many progressive cities throughout the country are prohibiting this new medium from getting established in their jurisdictions.

    Based upon Clear Channel Outdoors website, apparently the only city in King County currently offering advertising for sale using digital is Kent. Of course we have the tribal properties down here where Clear Channel has already established a strong foothold on our doorstep.

    The choice appears to be clear: We can be a progressive unique city that cherishes its past and focuses on quality urban design in the future, or, we can try to blend in with Milton and Fife with humongous flashing digital signs scattered throughout our neighborhoods and parts of our downtown.

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