Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:35am
- Clear Channel (CC) is removing 31 billboards (above in red) and repairing half as many (green)
- Clear Channel loses nearly 200 billboard-related permits
- Pending lawsuit is dismissed for the time being (two years)
- Sign code not being enforced but nuisance code is (why the above billboards are being removed or repaired)
- Public process will help us remove unprofitable (which is the majority of them) billboards in Tacoma
- Billboard Report App is updated and ready to continue to help people report billboard-related nuisance violations -- use it and cost CC yet more money to clean up their act in Tacoma
Last Friday I met with a couple city councilmembers and handful of involved and concerned locals on the matter of billboards. This wasn't our first meeting -- we got together four or so months ago as well. Since that time Tacoma's code enforcement took on a regime of monitoring and officially documenting the state of billboards in Tacoma. Our nuisance code only allows unused billboards 90 days before they're required to be removed those same concerned citizens decided to be, shall we say, less vocal about alerting Clear Channel as to the status of sign faces around town.
With 90+ days passed Clear Channel is now on the hook to remove 31 billboards and repair another 15 more. Keep in mind these changes have nothing to do with the fantastic sign code recently put in place but, instead, are violations of the above mentioned nuisance code which isn't at all at question with regards to the City's litigation with Clear Channel.
So, about that. The "Standstill Agreement" (here's the PDF) our City Manager recently signed with Clear Channel isn't giving anything up on our end but is yet more concessions on Clear Channel's. CC is losing 190 billboard-related permits. CC is losing 31 billboards and has already filed for their demolition permits. CC is not getting any digital billboards (thanks again to that awesome new sign code!). The pending lawsuit is dismissed.
What it means for Tacoma is we're not going to enforce our sign code for two years. However, in the meantime, the City will have a public process where we'll be able to sit down with Clear Channel and discuss a "sign consolidation program", according to the agreement. That's a fancy way of saying Clear Channel already sees the writing on the wall. In Tacoma, they're making little money off the majority of their sign faces. Many have already pointed out how many non-profit messages often go up on their billboards.
These meetings will not make specific exceptions to our sign code (which would poke holes in it) but, instead, will find ways it might be refined to come to acceptable outcome with Clear Channel. Let's be clear, however, we can say "no" to proposed locations of any future billboards. It's also obvious that this could mean a majority of billboards in Tacoma aren't making CC any money and would likely mean removal of those and keeping or relocating some away from neighborhoods and towards more major streets and roads that adhere to our sign code.
The Next Steps
The public process will likely involve meetings and panels to discuss what CC wants and allows us to have a say with how that relates to our sign code and a livable Tacoma. I'm excited for this because, as I mentioned, the tone is already of removing the majority of billboards in Tacoma with zero concessions related to allowing digital.
The biggest thing we can all do right now is continue to report billboards that violate any piece of our nuisance code. I've updated the billboard reporting app to include all violating conditions that will alert the City as such and require Clear Channel's attention. Bookmark it to your smartphone's home screen and get reporting! Any violation must and can be acted upon by the City's code enforcement because none of this relates to the currently dismissed lawsuit or sign code. So get reporting and make Clear Channel clean up every piece of litter or cover ever fleck of rusty supports so they continue to realize their collection of billboards is costing them far more than it's making them.
Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.
So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.
Hey Clear Channel, Clean Up Your Crap!