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Borrelli Defends Billboard Bill
Havasu News
March 31, 2017 (Updated April 1, 2017)
Amid criticism about his proposed billboard bill, State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said he wants to clear the air.

Lake Havasu City and Mohave County residents expressed concerns about Borrelli's second attempt at SB 1114. Some were concerned that the illuminated billboards would pop up along State Route 95, and others believed their local senator was in it for the wrong reasons.

However, Borrelli assures constituents that he's pushed the bill, both this year and last, at the request of Bullhead City, and the city concurs.

"Senator Borrelli and others have been working in consort with the city to seek qualification and amendment to outdoor advertising regulation," said Toby Cotter, city manager of Bullhead City. "The City of Bullhead passed local ordinances that would allow [outdoor advertising] under certain parameters but, under state law, the city is not allowed to do that."

According to Cotter, Bullhead City is currently forbidden to have electronic billboards, which he says could modernize their city's current "single-pole, ugly billboards."

The city would also receive the monetary value for each billboard and be allowed a certain amount of ad placements each day to share emergency services information and special city events, among others, added Cotter.

"I would not even be bothering with this if it wasn't for the City of Bullhead having the desire for these billboards in the first place," said Borrelli.

According to Borrelli, before he proceeded with this year's proposal of the bill, he requested that Lamar Adverting and the observatory committee - whose concerns helped halt the bill in 2016 - negotiate its terms.

"I said if you guys don't come to an agreement I'm not going to push this," Borrelli said.

The two groups agreed to lower the billboard lighting levels from 342 nits to 200 nits, change the number of billboards from 50 to 35 and condense its distance to a 60-mile radius, all of which were amendments made to this year's bill, he added.

After passing the Senate in early March, additional amendments were made to the proposed billboard bill to specify where the billboards would be allowed to be placed - he made the amendments to ensure that the city limits of Havasu would not be affected, he said.

"It was never going to be in Lake Havasu [in 2016] and it's never going to be in Lake Havasu City now," said Borrelli.

The proposed bill's amendments would allow Lamar Advertising to place their illuminated billboards along Interstate 40 up to Kingman, along Highway 68 toward Laughlin, along Highway 95 from Needles to Bullhead City and along Highway 93 up to Hoover Dam (excluding some areas that are federal land and anything east of the highway), he said. None of the billboards will be allowed on roads south of Interstate 40, he added.

Furthermore, any digital billboards put alongside highways would require the company to apply for a permit through the Arizona Department of Transportation and then seek approval from the city or county's governing bodies, stated Borrelli.

"It's not like the state is shoving something down their throats, they still have veto power," he said.
SB 1114 will go to the House's Rules Committee on Monday.

The Billboard Survives
March 31, 2017
Unlike other traditional advertising platforms like magazines and newspapers, out-of-home advertising such as billboards and subway posters grew almost 7% last year, mostly due to the rapid conversion of static ad spaces to digital. Per eMarketer, roughly 50% of all out-of-home ads will be digital this year, up 10% from 2014.
Why it matters: What used to plague out-of-home advertising growth was its inability to measure accurately how many people, and which types of people, saw the ads. But with the rise of digital screens and smartphone ownership, that's all about to change. Andy Sriubas, EVP of OUTFRONT Media, one of the largest U.S. out-of-home ad companies, tells Axios that his company has created a new technology that will serve people the same billboards ads that they pass on the street on their smartphones in real time, doubling the impact. Digital billboard ads can also be sold programmatically, increasing the number of advertisers who can buy them which creates more demand.
What's next: OUTFRONT is already experimenting with rotating, TV-like content on outdoor screens across different U.S. cities that will transform the ad business into a content business. The screens will feature rotating ads between clips of sports, weather and news updates.
Big Digital Billboard at Eisenhower Interchange has to go, Pa. Court Says
Penn Live
April 3, 2017
A massive digital billboard near the Eisenhower Interchange has to be removed because it violates state regulations regarding highway beautification and driver safety, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled Monday.
The problem, Judge Patricia A. McCullough wrote in the state court's opinion, is that the 57-foot-high V-shaped sign is a distraction that is simply too close to the interchange of Interstates 83 and 283 and also is visible to drivers on Route 322.
The Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising Co. took the case to court after the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation told it the sign in Swatara Township has to go. The legal battle has been going on for six years, starting right after township officials gave the company a permit to erect the sign, which began flashing its LED messages to passing motorists in March 2012.

PennDOT initially struck an accord with Kegerreis with the understanding that the sign could not be visible from any highways other that I-83 and I-283. However, the agency ordered the south face of the sign removed in December 2012 after determining the part of the billboard can be seen from ramps E and F of Route 322.
Also, PennDOT found the sign in the 4200 block of Paxton Street was illegally close to an interchange. State law bans such structures from being within 500 feet of such road junctions.

In denying Kegerreis' appeal, McCullough found that PennDOT's removal order is supported by the state's Outdoor Advertising Control Act. That law sets distance requirements for roadside advertising to comply with federal rules and ensure the state doesn't miss out on federal highway funding.
The act's purpose, McCullough noted, is to foster the beautification of highways by curbing the proliferation of roadside advertising. The law also aims to guard against the erection of structures, such as large, flashy signs, that might distract motorists at "significant decision points," especially busy interchanges, the judge said.


Memphis Judge Throws Out State Billboard Act
The Commercial Appeal
April 4, 2017
Throwing out a law that's governed outdoor advertising in Tennessee for the past 45 years, a federal judge in Memphis has ruled that the state's Billboard Regulation and Control Act is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.

U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla said the 1972 law "does not survive First Amendment scrutiny" because it bans some forms of commercial and non-commercial speech based on content. The ruling Friday came down on the side of Memphis billboard operator William H. Thomas Jr., who had alleged in a lawsuit that Tennessee Department of Transportation officials violated his constitutional rights in their efforts to remove a sign he constructed at the Interstate 40-240 interchange in East Memphis despite being denied a permit for it.

Although local governments often regulate billboards through zoning ordinances, McCalla's decision potentially opens up vast areas of the state to unfettered proliferation of outdoor signs along highways. It also could result in a 10 percent cut in federal highway funds to Tennessee because the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 requires states to regulate billboards to federal standards.

The ruling follows a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down portions of an Arizona town's sign ordinance on free-speech grounds, a case cited by McCalla. With the latest decision, similar litigation is likely to be lodged against other states' billboard laws, say advocates of controls on outdoor advertising.

"It will also have an impact ... far beyond Tennessee," said William Brinton, an attorney who represented Scenic America, Scenic Tennessee and other groups seeking to preserve the billboard regulation law.

Thomas' suit attracted allies among limited-government groups such as The Beacon Center of Tennessee, which say that billboard laws, by allowing regulatory exemptions for certain types of messages, impose undue "content-based" regulation of speech.

But advocates of billboard laws say the rules are needed as a means of protecting not just aesthetics but property values and possibly traffic safety.

It wasn't clear Monday whether TDOT officials, who enforce the billboard law, planned to appeal McCalla's decision. Calls to the department's Nashville headquarters were not returned by Monday evening.

The state General Assembly also could pass a new law rectifying the problems identified by McCalla.

Under state law, TDOT requires permits for most types of billboards constructed within 660 feet of highway right of ways. Several types of signs are exempt from permitting, including those promoting historic or scenic attractions, and messages advertising property, goods or activities offered on the same premises as the billboard.

As of November, Thomas and his TI Properties had 15 active permits from TDOT authorizing billboards. But at seven other sites the agency has removed his signs - one because it was on the right of way and six because they were erected illegally without permits.

At the I-40-240 interchange, TDOT in 2006 denied a permit because it was less than the required 1,000-foot distance of an existing sign, but Thomas began constructing the billboard there anyway.

George R. Fusner, an attorney representing Thomas, said in an email that because the case still is "ongoing" it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment.

Reach Tom Charlier at thomas.charlier@commercialappeal.com or 901-529-2572 and on Twitter at @thomasrcharlier.

Nonprofit Wants Hollywood-Style Pittsburgh Sign To Replace Sprint Banner
March 28, 2017
A Pittsburgh nonprofit wants to replace the controversial black and yellow Sprint sign on Mt. Washington with a Hollywood-style letter sign.
Scenic Pittsburgh sent a letter to Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising, which owns the 7,200-square-foot billboard, asking them to donate or sell the property to the organization. Lamar is in a legal battle with the city of Pittsburgh, which claims the company is violating zoning regulations.
One option for the sign's future could be something akin to Hollywood's iconic hillside sign, according to Scenic Pittsburgh executive director Mike Dawida.

"It does not identify commercial activities, it doesn't sell beer, it doesn't sell chipped ham," Dawida said. "It's there to just tell everybody, 'this is a beautiful place and this is where you want to come and see.'"

Dawida said if Lamar sells the sign, it could receive a tax benefit, since Scenic Pittsburgh is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. He said the money could be raised for the new sign in the same way it was in California: by selling sponsorship for each letter.

Lamar said in a statement that Sprint will be offered a contract renewal before other advertisers are considered.

"The billboard has been, and continues to be a legal advertising sign for the past 80 years," the statement said.

City officials have called the sign an eyesore and demanded its removal. They've fined Lamar up to $1,000 a day for violations.

Dawida said he thinks a donation from Lamar would put them back in the good graces of city officials. Plus, he said, a new Pittsburgh sign would only add to the iconic Mt. Washington hillside.

"We all watch all the sporting events that are here and we always take great pride in the fact that they always show a wonderful view of Pittsburgh," Dawida said. "You'll always see the Pittsburgh sign now if we get this done."

Dawida said if the Hollywood-style sign isn't installed, the space could be absorbed into Emerald View Park. He said Scenic Pittsburgh will likely go through laws of conservatorship, which allow groups, usually nonprofits, to take over sites and preserve or rehabilitate them.