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Thread: Digital billboards

  1. #1
    May 2009
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    Digital billboards

    Hi everyone. I'm wondering how other cities/towns are dealing with the issue of billboards being converted from the static vinyl or paper to digital signs? How do your codes/bylaws deal with this issue and the issues of brightness and some of the off-site impacts (distance between dwelling units for example)?

  2. #2
    Apr 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here in Los Angeles, there were no regulations specific to digital billboards when the conversion of 877 was allowed by a 2006 lawsuit settlement with three billboard companies. That was a drastic mistake, because after they began to appear, with no public hearings or even notification to adjoining property owners, the complaints from residents started rolling in. These were primarily related to light trespass, which was not only due to the intense brightness of the signs, but the fact that every time an ad changed (every 8 seconds) the light level changed. This affected the ambient light at night for a surprising distance from the signs, so that people experienced a kind of flickering effect of constantly changing light levels in their homes. Which was extremely annoying. There were also concerns about traffic safety, with anecdotal evidence of distraction, somebody getting rearended at an intersection with a digital billboard, etc. Environmentalists also raised concerns about the fact that a full-sized digital billboard is a big energy consumer, even though the LED's it uses are energy-efficient. That's because there are hundreds of thousands of LED's in a sign, and they have to be lighted during daylight hours as well as night, or they can't be seen.

    In other words, effective regulations have to address these issues, and how they do it is something of new science at the moment, since the billboard companies are intent upon rolling them out everywhere. But brightness and the frequency with which messages change are probably the most important elements. A billboard that changes messages every hour, for example, is going to be almost like a static billboard in terms of light trespass. There was an attempt to impose that limit on a digital billboard in a particular area here, and the billboard company (Clear Channel) cried bloody murder, because rapid changes are to their economic benefit.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit

    Thank You Very Much

    My previous employer's billboard regs upheld in court.


    *pats myself on the back*
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
    Aug 2004
    Central Texas
    My fair city recently amended the Code to allow digital billboards, and regulated the number, lighting, location, rate of change, and distances. One large corporation pushed it through, but a few of the little guys got one or two locations.

    Dallas City Code Section 51A-7.308

    I know San Antonio also has regulations on digital billboards.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    We prohibit them across the board (both on- and off-premise).

    San Antonio did a pilot program of some kind whereby a company could put up a digital billboard if like 12 times the square footage of existing off-premise signage was taken down within a certain distance of the proposed digital billboard. I think they rescended it later and now have a ban in place for any new ones, but I think they ended up with about two dozen digital billboards.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
    Feb 2003
    Encroaching on something
    When writing your ordinance, please keep in mind (if you have one near-by) the impacts on the aviation community. Also, if there is a military base near by, the LED lights impact the night vision devices (the light spectrum can be very blinding to a pilot even without NVDs).

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=Suburb Repairman;647816]We prohibit them across the board (both on- and off-premise

    We prohibit billboards also, but allow electronic signs (kinda like small billboards) with changing messages up to 8 sq ft and 25 sq ft on arterials

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries
    Billboards and electronic message signs are banned in the community where I work.

    Some larger cities in the US have allowed billboards with electronic displays if a certain number of static billboards are removed; for example, replacement of one billboard with an electronic billboard if five billboards of the same size along the street are removed.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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