Friday, February 10, 2012

State bill moving with the help of advertising lobby to trump municipal regulation of digital billboards

We have fought the good fight locally to keep keep digital signs and billboards out of residential neighborhoods. However what if the red-state Tennessee General Assembly, buoyed by lobbyists, decided to pursue what would amount to a nuclear option on local regulation of commercial LEDs? It is happening in Utah:

Senate Bill 136 would allow companies to convert their traditional billboards to digital ones without requiring the approval of city governments - a move St. George officials say could have a detrimental impact on people living nearby ....

Proponents of the bill ... say businesses should be allowed to advertise and shouldn't be punished because they use certain methods or technology.

City Councilman Jon Pike said there would be more than a few outraged residents if current printed billboards were converted to bright digital signs that had the strength to project light into people's living rooms.

"These digital signs go a long way and can be very bright. We don't want to have these signs be so bright they light up the residents' windows at night," Pike said. "We don't want a proliferation of electronic billboards. We've said we'd like to preserve our ability to regulate as much as possible the billboards in our community."

There is a new study out that finds that billboards negatively affect the values of neighboring properties and that cities with strict billboard controls are more prosperous than those that have less strict ordinances. Given that it is the best interest of property owners to protect the value of their properties, given that it is in the financial interests of cities to maximize property taxes by supporting higher real estate values, state governments ought not to intrude into local regulations on businesses that threaten residential property values as well as quality of life.

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