Sunday, February 14, 2010


Are they blight, or beauty? Are they hazardous, or no big deal?

Those flashy digital outdoor advertising billboards are triggering political and legal battles throughout the nation. The most recent battlefield is in Denver, Colo., where the city’s zoning committee is asking the city council to impose a moratorium until the safety and appearance of the signs can be given more study. A hearing on the proposed moratorium is expected to be held next month.

In Los Angeles, a battle between outdoor advertisers, city officials, highway beautification activists and city residents has spilled over into the state Legislature and state courts. A proposal last year by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, for a two-year statewide moratorium on converting existing billboards to digital, and erecting new ones has stalled. But that hasn’t doused the fire burning in Los Angeles over a deal the city council struck in 2002 with selected billboard companies to convert existing billboards to digital in return for removing others altogether.

Residents of some Los Angeles neighborhoods now are in a roar over the conversions. Where once they had static, fairly non-intrusive signs near their homes, residents now complain they have flashing lights from “giant outdoor television sets” illuminating their homes and ruining their views.

The Federal Highway Administration has launched an extensive study, which is expected to be completed this year, to determine if these signs distract drivers and cause accidents.

What do you think about the digital outdoor advertising signs that have sprouted around your community?

Tell me about the best and the worst you have seen. As a driver, do they distract you? Or do they look a heck of a lot better than some of the tattered old billboards that have been left out in the sun way too long?

Post your responses here, or send me an e-mail (John Hardisty (Jack) Thanks. I will be writing about this in the coming weeks.

The photo posted here is of a digital sign at L and 24st streets in downtown Bakersfield, Calif. While you order coffee in the Starbucks drive-thru, you can watch the sign flip through various advertising scenes on an electronic board that looms over the Chevron station.

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