Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 32

Thread: Are the days of animated sign bans over?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,539
    Blog entries
    3

    Are the days of animated sign bans over?

    On the way back from the dog park yesterday, I drove down Niagara Falls Boulevard, a busy commercial strip north of Buffalo that is the dividing line between the power suburb of Amherst and the more proletarian community of Tonawanda. Outside of a short, tree-lined and brick-paved stretch in Buffalo, Niagara Falls Boulevard was never an attractive street. However, as the sun faded, Niagara Falls Boulevard seemed even uglier than ever. Both the Amherst and Tonawanda sides of the street were lined with freestanding signs bearing electronic message centers. Many were in full animated mode, with constant chasing lights, transitions, cartoons, and the like. Storefront windows were filled with "open" signs with chasing letters and blinking frames, neon beer and lottery signs that flashed on and off, and electronic displays scrolled away in their storefronts. On the Tonawanda side, an abundance of Canadian-style portable signs, with multi-colored fluorescent letters on black backgrounds, only exacerbated the visual blight. The scene resembled Las Vegas Boulevard more so than a poorly planned suburban strip.

    Both Amherst and Tonawanda have bans on animated signage. In fact, most suburbs of Buffalo ban them. However, save for the historic villages that surround the city, there are few cities and towns in the Buffalo area whose commercial strips are free of blinking signs and animated electronic message centers. Electronic message centers are prevalent even in Clarence, a town with the region's highest median household income. Electronic message centers seem to be more prevalent in Buffalo and its suburbs than what I saw when I was living in Austin, Texas, in a state that is infamous among planners for its permissive sign and billboard regulations.

    In the United States, communities first began to ban animated signs in the 1950s, when neon "spectacular signs" battled for visual dominance on the growing suburban strips of the era, and it was the rare bank sign that didn't rotate. Despite the bans, electronic message centers appeared in the 1990s, followed by three-color displays, multi-color displays, plasma displays, and the reappearance of old-school blinking signs, flauting the sign ordinances of their host communities.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, sign and billboard regulation was a hot topic among planners, reflected in numerous articles, PAS memos, books, and conference sessions. Today, except for the occasional seminar on electronic message boards, the days when visual pollution was a prominent part of the planner's agenda seems to be over. Code enforcement departments seem to have written off sign regulations, as evidenced by the growing proliferation of animated and flashing signs in communities that otherwise prohibit or strictly regulate them. Are the days of static signs and commercial corridors that don't resemble the Vegas Strip over? Are sign code issues now passe among planners?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,947
    In my last two towns, the towns were the major culprits. There does come a time when you throw up your arms exclaiming: I give up! At one time I thought they were too expensive to be a big issue. Yes, naivete is one of my faults.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,197
    Two years ago we were one vote away from making it harder to get this kind of sign but one electronic sign owner came to the council and the changes were denied. To appease this one owner, the council went against the recommendation of the planning commission and said the changes were bad for the town. Recently more businesses have said they "want" (I put it in quotations because I want a Ferrari but that doesn't mean I can afford one) these kinds of signs so instead of restricting them we are actually going to remove all regulations, except for maximum size, and call it a day. I suppose this falls under the "if you can't beat them - join them" mentality.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,574
    We adopted a complete ban on electronic signage in 2006, following a state court ruling that said codes that exempted "time and temperature" was a content based regulation, and therefore a community would have to permit all electronic signs.

    After that decision, there was another NH case (which I've posted about in the past) where the federal district court upheld a ban on electronic signs despite the time/temperature exception. See: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...6&postcount=27
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    81
    It seems like so often form based codes are largely silent on signs. Maybe there is an assumption that the local government has signs covered elsewhere and that's good enough.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2009
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    43
    We are working on a project to either review the entire sign rules here, or just the top 4 main issues, which includes these digital signs.

    The billboard industry has been pushing to convert a lot of them throughout Alberta and I know Edmonton is looking at the issue. A report is going forward to the planning commission to make these signs (for a temporary period) a Direct Control use, meaning that city council would have to approve a land use change in order to allow the signs until the complete rule review is done.

    I know many community associations are not happy with these signs and we've been getting feed back about it...which is good. I'm just not looking forward to planning commission next week!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    3,796
    We are in "hurry up and wait" mode around here. My department did just pass a significant tightening of the regs regarding animated LED signs, however. I think it's very much on the radar. Funnily enough, though, I can't get them to turn me loose on temporary signs - which are now approaching some sort of critical mass in my city at which they'll block out the sun and we'll all turn into Mole-People.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,434
    we still don't allow them - you can have one neon sign up to 4 square feet and that's it - but no moving parts or lights

  9. #9
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2009
    Location
    South Bay
    Posts
    240
    The last place I worked in CA, we allowed them for retail uses, such as automobile dealers, convention centers, theaters, and shopping centers with a gross floor area of 250,000sqft, or more; and, schools that are a certain size (i.e. a Junior College). We were also specific with how often the copy can change (no more frequently than 5 seconds)...and we were also very specific on protecting neighboring homes.

    I notice counties and rural areas are a lot more lax...we would often groan at what they would allow...and how it will eventually turn into the City's problem.

    On the flip side, an electronic message board can be a lot more attracting than the manual type, that tend to fade...or are missing letters.
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
    Registered
    May 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    98
    These new digital LED signs suck, they use as much energy as six houses! Of course the sign industry doesn't want you or anyone else to know that. I can't believe that with all of these jurisdictions trying to be green and sustainable, allow these to be used!

    Oh well, I'll get off my sign soap box.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    8,434
    we don't allow LED either

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    S x county
    Posts
    13
    You folks are forgetting the number one reason for the proliferation of these signs: $$$$

    Since the local governments are so strapped for cash, sign companies have arrived at the city and town halls and "bought" most local governments for a one-time or annual payment in a quid-pro-quo for the right to erect these signs or alter their existing signs to illuminated (I'm talking billboards here).

    The question of enforcement is an odd one, though, since the aforementioned strapped for cash cities should want an additional mechanism to generate revenue. The only reason here I can ascribe to this phenomenon is that the staff time involved in enforcement of local ordinances is too burdensome on the locality. There is, after all, some truth to the convention that fewer people mean fewer tasks accomplished.

  13. #13

    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Land Before Time
    Posts
    10

    Signs

    The City that I work for here in California, we are a very rural farmworker community, one business owner has decided to say that our ordinance is out of date and we are living behind the times, so our Planning Commission has decided that they do not want to be deemed "old school" so now we are looking at having these huge unattractive signs throughout town. Might I add that I just completed a 4 year project granting money to our downtown commercial district to revitalize the historic buidlings $2.5 million project in total, and now they want to add these animated signs??? Ugh....I don't get it!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,419
    Quit fighting the inevitable.

    We planners have more important issues to worry about than whether or not signage is animated, electronic, LED, etc.

    We allow it, with reasonable regulation.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  15. #15
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    9,684
    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Quit fighting the inevitable.



    We allow it, with reasonable regulation.
    I don't believe that it is inevitable - and I think that the FHA study will show that these signs in large scale (i.e. billboards, etc.) are extremely dangerous to the motorist giving even more support to the banning argument.

    I think allowing it with strong regulations attached will probably keep you from getting sued, but there is a good chance that you would win even if you banned them completely.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  16. #16
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,419
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I don't believe that it is inevitable - and I think that the FHA study will show that these signs in large scale (i.e. billboards, etc.) are extremely dangerous to the motorist giving even more support to the banning argument.

    I think allowing it with strong regulations attached will probably keep you from getting sued, but there is a good chance that you would win even if you banned them completely.
    Large scale, perhaps. However, in my experience at my current job, the general public is largely indifferent. For billboards, the trend is to allow digital but require the removal of static. I'd rather have fewer, digital boards than a lot of static boards.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2009
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    43
    Well just to follow up on my previous post; our amendments were tabled until December. I should point out that Calgary will begin it's Municipal elections soon; which doesn't help.

    So in the mean time; we have no rules; they keep applying - we keep refusing and it appears the appeal board keeps overturning our decisions. We currently have 6 signs up that are 'static' LED boards (billboard sized) and more and more smaller LED signs are going up. The public doesn't seem to be reacting to them well; there has been some negative media play.

    I did a random drive through the city and stumbled on 4 that I didn't even know about and they seem to be popping up everywhere! Not sure how we are going to deal with it.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2009
    Location
    South Bay
    Posts
    240
    I'm suprised by their popularity, considering how ridiculously expensive they are!
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    Posts
    1,056
    Most communities around here don't allow them, but the problem is enforcement. There are so many of them. And when you go after one, they either turn it off for a bit or turn it to one, non-animated image, or a time-and-temperature mode that is allowed in most ordinances. Then they turn it back in a few days and you're back where you started.

    I've had one successful effort to stop an animated sign in my time. One. There are just too many of them and not enough ability to enforce bans. I think the feds need to ban them along highways, at least, for safety reasons. That might help.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    3,796
    Quote Originally posted by kltoomians View post
    I'm suprised by their popularity, considering how ridiculously expensive they are!
    They sign reps tell me they're getting more popular because, as with all technology, they've become cheaper with time. It's no longer cutting edge stuff so more and more businesses will find it cost effective.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  21. #21
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
    Registered
    May 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    98
    If you want to fight these types of signs, your best argument is the sustainability, or efficiency element. These signs use more energy than static signs.

    To a jurisdiction that prides itself on sustainability and low energy consumption, this fact is usually a wake up call!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    123
    Anyone have experience negotiating with sign co's on reducing static signs for permission to convert some to digital? What ratios have you worked out? 1 takedown:1digital? 2:1? 3:1? How desperate are they?

    Quote Originally posted by azmodela View post
    These new digital LED signs suck, they use as much energy as six houses!
    Reference please! Someone mentioned a limitation on how often copy can change - does that decrease energy usage?


    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    the FHA study will show that these signs in large scale (i.e. billboards, etc.) are extremely dangerous to the motorist
    Which FHA study are you referring to?

    Thanks!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    County of Orange
    Posts
    134
    .

    Culturally, it's really very sad. Within 10 years, we'll have signs that loudly yell at you, using your real name as it appears on your communications device or micro-tagged credit cards.

    .

  24. #24
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
    Registered
    May 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    98
    Quote Originally posted by Bookworm View post


    Reference please! Someone mentioned a limitation on how often copy can change - does that decrease energy usage?


    Thanks!
    To run LED's on the scale of a billboard or sign, takes a lot of electronic control since LED's run on DC power, but power is supplied from the power company in AC. So it takes circuitry to convert the AC to DC power. There is energy loss there.

    LED's are great, but only when they're at their preferred temperature. LED's in this scale require cooling equipment to keep things cool. Something a normal billboard or sign with incandescent lighting does not require.

    The biggest use of energy in an LED sign, is that to see it during daylight hours, it has to be on 24/7. Conventional signs are only on during the evening since you can see the sign copy during the day.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    123
    Does anyone have examples of ordinances limiting how often copy can change on these things?

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. School Days, Golden Rule Days
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 15
    Last post: 28 Feb 2011, 11:42 AM
  2. The Green Bans
    Environmental Planning
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 19 Apr 2010, 9:54 AM
  3. Switzerland bans minarets
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 30
    Last post: 03 Dec 2009, 12:23 PM
  4. Franchise Bans
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 19
    Last post: 24 Mar 2004, 2:48 AM
  5. Smoking bans, now fragrance bans?
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 16
    Last post: 29 Apr 2003, 2:27 PM