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Thread: Billboards: what's the big deal?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Perhaps my Texas bias is coming into play. Nearly every freeway in this state is laced with frontage roads on both sides. These frontage roads are continuously dotted with businesses, from retail/gas stations to industrial complexes. So if you drive from Austin to Dallas, which is about 180 miles or so, there will be a near-constant stream of advertising for businesses that are along the roadway (in this case, Interstate 35). We are bombarded with advertisements against our will anyway. I don't need to buy a new Sterling semi truck just outside of Temple. I don't need a repossessed mobile home outside Waco. I do need kolaches from West, though. But still, you get the point. Billboards won't make our "scenic" highway drives any less scenic than they already are[n't].
    Well, I'm not sure I-35 classifies as a "scenic" highway - its a major N-S interstate. My concern is billboards creeping into the smaller highways and byways where people often go to behold the scenery of America. That's the whole idea behind the Scenic Byways recognition - to funnel additional funding for maintenance of roads that reveal and provide access to our more exceptional corners of the nation. In my opinion, to then allow these views to be obstructed by billboard advertising is counterproductive.

    I also feel that my tax dollars helped pay for these roads and as such, I have a say in whether they are littered with billboard advertising (maybe more people disagree than agree, but I at least should be able to legitimately voice my opinion). Its a little tricky legally, I understand, because technically the signs are located on private land outside of the roadway, but the visual pollution concept I think provides some additional room for legislation. Under current law, a municipality can still restrict or remove billboards that, because of distraction or obstruction of critical view corridors (for safety), present a danger to the public.

    Personally, I think Scenic Austin has the right idea: http://www.scenictexas.org/files/No_...Fact_Sheet.pdf
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  2. #27
    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Perhaps my Texas bias is coming into play. Nearly every freeway in this state is laced with frontage roads on both sides. These frontage roads are continuously dotted with businesses, from retail/gas stations to industrial complexes. So if you drive from Austin to Dallas, which is about 180 miles or so, there will be a near-constant stream of advertising for businesses that are along the roadway (in this case, Interstate 35).
    The saying is true: 'The sun is ris' and the sun is set and I ain't the hell out of Texas yet!' I've personally been all over Texas interstates from El Paso to Corpus, across the panhandle, from Dallas to Houston-- and I have family near Dallas -- and I agree Texas interstates are an assault to the senses.

    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    We are bombarded with advertisements against our will anyway.
    So why add even more to an existing visual wasteland and make it just that much more unsightly? I would add that those high rise 'signs' for the businesses along the interstates aren't signs at all: they are message boards that could easily be restricted and even prohibited if anybody had the will.

    I agree that businesses have the right to advertise their goods and services. I have the right to ignore those advertisements. Please tell me how to ignore a billboard without a negative action on my part.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
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  3. #28
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    So why add even more to an existing visual wasteland and make it just that much more unsightly?
    My argument was that it is not possible to make Texas highways more unsightly.

    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Please tell me how to ignore a billboard without a negative action on my part.
    You can't. But if you're in Texas, you're screwed anyway.

  4. #29
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    We recently adopted a modified "cap and replace" ordinance. That is, if a company wants to install an electronic billboard, an existing board must be removed. In the past month, we run across lots of problems with this ordinance and we're hoping to have in rescinded.

    Anybody else have experience in this area?

    The billboard lobby is strong in Florida.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    My argument was that it is not possible to make Texas highways more unsightly. . . .
    Nowadays, it's not just a matter of 'unsightly'.

    The following is a New York Times article on placement of video cameras on billboards. It's just a matter of time before technology will allow billboard viewers to be videorecorded when they're inside cars moving at highway speed.

    ______

    Billboards That Look Back

    By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
    The New York Times
    May 31, 2008

    In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything — how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

    Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

    Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem. They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by — their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.

    Behind the technology are small start-ups that say they are not storing actual images of the passers-by, so privacy should not be a concern. The cameras, they say, use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person’s gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon.

    Link (requires being logged onto NYTimes.com):http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/31/bu...gin&oref=login

    Moderator note:
    Please shorten the length of articles when posting them. Not only do they make the thread more difficult to read, but it also reduces your chance of violating copyright laws.

    thanks - mendelman
    Last edited by mendelman; 28 Jul 2008 at 9:13 AM.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    My biggest complaints are as follows:

    The new digital ones cast off a ton of light at night, particularly when it is showing a mostly white background.

    Some of these things are huge and they overhang property lines in urban areas. I for one would not want to live next to an area where my neighbor was allowed to have one of these tower type ones in his yard or behind his business. It would blcok your sunlight, and heaven forbid if it should come down on your house!

    If you've ever parked your car under a large one, you will come back and hour later to find it covered with bird poop.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Plus
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    From my above NYTimes link, (which now connects to full text of article):
    There is a dispute over whether digital billboards play a role in highway accidents, and a national study on the subject is expected to be completed this fall by a unit of the Transportation Research Board. The board is part of a private nonprofit institution, the National Research Council.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian Rewey's avatar
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    A 'no logo' day...

    Hey all,

    What I'd really love to see is a 'no logo' day. Can you imagine a day when everyone took to the streets with some white paint (I guess you North Americans call it 'whitewash'), and a roller, and paint over every ad you see that wasn't attached to the building it was serving. I think the resulting streetscape would be very eye-opening. I don't think people really acknowledge how many advertising pieces you see in a day, against your will or otherwise...

    Maybe it can happen on the same day every year? I'm not fussy. Someone else can pick a date.

    Come to think of it, I might just do it on photoshop. It's probably less of a chance of getting in trouble...

  9. #34
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    Federal law and the constitution play a huge role in billboard placement. The Highway Beautification Act permits billboards only in commercial and industrial areas. The 1st amendment allows freedom of speech which applies to billboards.

    Once up, billboards are grandfathered and nearly impossible to have removed. In my home state of Michigan, billboards are everywhere.

    In my adopted state of Nebraska, they take commercial and industrial very seriously. If the county has zoning, the area must be zoned commercial or industrial before the State Department of Roads will issue a permit, and will only issue a permit if the local zoning official states the area is zoned industrial or commercial and signs off on the permit. The state will not recognize a commercial or industrial zone created specifically for billboards. This would include a narrow industrial or commercial zoning district (100' or so).

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