Tacoma Urbanist

Aug. 5, 2011 at 12:01am

Tacoma City Council Candidates Ibsen and Smitherman's Statements Against Digital Billboards Compared

It is important for voters to know the result of their vote.  The billboard issue is perhaps the largest issue before the City of Tacoma this year and threatens to do more damage to the city of Tacoma than perhaps any other single vote in decades.

Will the candidate that Tacomans vote for stand up for the city to keep blight (digital billboards) from ruining Tacoma's skyline? Or will they capitulate and try to appease billboard companies at all costs?

Tacoma City candidates Anders Ibsen and Karen Smitherman have taken very hard stands against the threat of digital billboards in Tacoma far stronger than the other two candidates in the race for Tacoma City Council District #1.  Both attended council meetings on the issue.  At one of the meetings, Anders spoke out against digital billboards. (The positions of Atkinson and Alexander can be found here on Feed Tacoma)

Here are their (raw) statements on the issue.  Make your own judgement and see the comment section for the position of the other two candidates.

Anders Ibsen

Q XI: What is your position in relation to the settlement proposal that the Tacoma City Council is considering regarding electronic billboards? Do you support it? If you were elected to the Tacoma City Council, would you authorize the City of Tacoma to expend financial resources to defend the Tacomas current 1997 billboard law?
Answer: As an executive board member of the North End Neighborhood Council, I voted with my colleagues last March to oppose the current settlement decision. I am disappointed that the city did not choose to defend a clearly constitutional law against Clear Channels baseless accusations. If elected, I would support a full legal defense of our 1997 billboard law.
via Feed Tacoma1. As our attorney friends and fellow urbanists Doug Schafer and Erik Bjornsen point out, there is no "deal" with Clear Channel. It doesn't matter if they agreed to a settlement, since the council did not actually vote to ratify what they "signed." I look forward to our city modernizing its code to completely ban digital billboards, and expunge non-complying static billboards. You'll have to ask Clear Channel about the flavor of their sandwiches, satanic or otherwise.

Karen Smitherman

Via Q&A with the Tacoma Sun

Q XI: What is your position in relation to the settlement proposal that the Tacoma City Council is considering regarding electronic billboards? Do you support it? If you were elected to the Tacoma City Council, would you authorize the City of Tacoma to expend financial resources to defend the Tacomas current 1997 billboard law?

.
Answer: Although there are a few people who support electronic billboards and a few non-profits who have received funding from Clear Channel to post advertisements on their billboards who appreciate Clear Channels civic involvement, 95% of those citizens who testified are strongly opposed to the Proposed Settlement Agreement (PSA) with Clear Channel. Currently, the Planning Commission is review those comments and will be making recommendations to the Tacoma City Council. Clear Channel plans to build ten jumbo digital billboards, I believe, the code is in direct conflict with the existing Comprehensive Plan land use policies for mixed-use districts.


Via Feed Tacoma:


1) Billboards - I represent a District where people value home-town feel and a natural environment. Over and over I hear that these billboards are the antithesis of everything our community values. They're pollutive, really. It is important that the City Council keep its promises as an elective body, and ensure that its dealings with corporations benefit Tacoma's true bottom line: Its citizens.

comments [10]  |  posted under tacoma

Comments

by Erik on 8/5/2011 @ 12:14am

Carl Alexander:

1. I am not necessarily totally opposed to digital billboards, there are places where they could be used effectively. Where I am opposed to them is along heavily trafficked streets as they pose too large of a distraction as all of the surveys show.

www.feedtacoma.com/forum/candidates-elec...

by Erik on 8/5/2011 @ 12:20am


Joseph Atkinson:

Q XI: What is your position in relation to the settlement proposal that the Tacoma City Council is considering regarding electronic billboards? Do you support it? If you were elected to the Tacoma City Council, would you authorize the City of Tacoma to expend financial resources to defend the Tacoma�s current 1997 billboard law?
It is unfortunate that we are facing such a complex issue that threatens to cost the taxpayers huge amounts of capital in these tough economic times. To me this resembles our crumbling street problem in the way it was neglected and pushed back for a future council to deal with. The City Council in 1997 attempted to remedy the problem, but we still face the same issues today with no easy solutions. It is unclear to me as to how much it will cost the city if Clear Channel was forced to remove blighted billboards and prevailed in suit, but my estimation puts that figure at around $30 million. Again, I do not have all the information.
What is clear is that the city made two fundamental mistakes in mitigation. First and most importantly, the people weren�t involved in any meaningful way at the beginning, which has come back as a major controversy. Second, the initial settlement was heavily weighted in favor of Clear Channel, which I assume is the product of a weak negotiator. The signs to be removed were mostly in low traffic areas per my assessment. What was needed is a fair & balanced settlement proposal to be considered by the people and the council together. Possible mediation should include a drastic reduction in size, more stringent limits on residential & school area zoning placement, increases is static shift time (I would prefer 60 seconds), swifter and more certain removal of existing billboards, and a stipulation that the city should only be responsible for sign value reimbursement (not future loss of revenue) should a sign be removed in the future for any reason. The settlement was not thoughtfully considered, and not in the best interest of the city and the people.
A better settlement should have been proposed to the people from the start, and public input should have been considered by the council before adoption. The process should have been more open and transparent from the beginning. Now we have wasted time and are back to square one with increased opposition and public mistrust. The people have lost faith in the ability of our government, which will take time and energy to rebuild.
I will defend the will of the people above all else, but the people must know all the facts. It is imperative that the city fight to get the most favorable settlement, and bring all the facts plainly before our residents, including litigation cost options. What I would like to see are cost estimations for all scenarios, so we, the people, can make an informed decision on how best to move forward.


www.tacomasun.com/word/wp-content/upload...

by fredo on 8/5/2011 @ 7:01am
Hard to read the original blog post because the Urbanist blog template cuts off lots of the text on the right side.

by fredo on 8/5/2011 @ 7:14am
The billboard issue is probably the biggest issue before the voters this year.

Erik, we have all 4 candidates for position 1 now posting on the Fredo Roundtable discussion thread. Hope you will bring some of your thoughtful areas of inquiry over there and ask the candidates yourself.


by Erik on 8/5/2011 @ 9:46am
Nice work on the roundtable Fredo. In the above post I simply distilled out the answers to the billboard issues. The links go back to the original sources so you can read the responses there.

by Erik on 8/6/2011 @ 10:03pm
Billboard battle update:

Its not a compromise I would approve of, but I was surprised, she said. Im so used to the billboard bullies getting so much more than this. Someone did something right to at least hammer this out. Thats a small consolation if you end up having to live by it, but I dont think you will.

Nice to see that the City attorney is starting to sound optimistic on the legal outcome in court:

Two lawyers with experience defending local governments against outdoor advertising companies said last week that it’s unclear how binding a contract the settlement will be. Elizabeth Pauli, the city’s attorney, said Clear Channel is putting itself in position for some kind of legal move.

“If their approach is to say, ‘Well, city, we get that you didn’t do this code but you’re still bound to these other provisions,’ there are several strong defenses to such an approach if that’s what they’re contemplating,” she said.

Read more: www.thenewstribune.com/2011/08/06/177388...

www.thenewstribune.com/2011/08/06/177388...

by Erik on 8/16/2011 @ 11:37pm
Anders Ibsen wins the initial primary vote tonight.



Joe Atkinson 1,448 24.31%

Anders Ibsen 2,127 35.71%

Carl Alexander 369 6.2%

Karen Smitherman 2,012 33.78%

by NineInchNachos on 8/17/2011 @ 8:11am
Anders needs to get the Carl + Joe voters to go Ibsen, any ideas?

by Camaratii on 8/17/2011 @ 9:07am
He could reiterate Atkinson's position on how badly Planet of the Apes sucked...maybe throw in a reference to closed streetcar loops too?

by NineInchNachos on 8/17/2011 @ 11:22am
I like how you think.