In Memory of Harry
Big Fast Little Storm

Billboard This

Warning_1 The City of Albuquerque's sign ordinance is being revised which begs the question: what about billboards?  A Journal opinion piece asks too. 

The billboard lobby is why.  They donate to campaigns, give free billboard space to politicians, and pay plenty for lawyers and lobbyists.

Manny Aragon, in one of his many lobbying gigs while he was a State Senator, gave impassioned testimony against limits on local billboards.  He said his Mom taught him to read from billboards while they were driving because they couldn't afford books.  No kidding.

Scenic Florida describes recent national and state billboard legislation the industry has pushed for.  One provision, tacked on an emergency bill by a Utah Republican, would have allowed "non-conforming" billboards (another word for "illegal") damaged by hurricanes in 13 coastal states to be rebuilt.  And Jeb Bush was considering signing State legislation in Florida that would grant the industry free view easements across public right of way - to remove and prohibit trees and shrubs that would block the view of billboards from highways.  (Not the kind of bush removal Florida needs.)

The Billboard lobby is also a big big fan of the private property rights "movement" having benefitted hugely from local governments "taking" them down at top dollar. 

In South Carolina the property rights movement-aligned efforts of the billboard lobby would require governments to pay just to regulate signs.  From South Carolinian law student, Laurin Manning's blog:

Here we have a case study in pay-to-play politics. The sweeping legislation takes away the power of local governments to decide what’s best for their communities with respect to this one industry that happens to have tenacious, deep-pocketed lobbyists.

The new state law forces a local government to pay fair market value to a billboard owner when the local government zones a billboard out of a particular area. This type of statutory mandate hamstrings local governments (particularly poor ones) that can’t afford to shell out fair market value to move signs, and it bars local governments’ standard practice of amortization — allowing the non-conforming sign to remain in place for a sufficient time period for the billboard owner to recover costs before the sign’s removal is required. Amortization, while somewhat inefficient, is the solution most equitable to both the billboard owner and the local government, which is acting in the interest of the community by zoning in the first place. (At least in theory…isn’t that why we have zoning?)

Local governments can't afford scenic highways apparently.  And there are no controls over Pueblo billboards at all.  Obviously.      


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