Your city • inside and out

Consumerism at 55 MPH

In Here & Now on February 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm


2/23 • The Spokane city council begins debate tonight on a new comprehensive sign ordinance that would, among other things, outlaw the use of digital signs. Over the past few years, digital signs and billboards have been popping up all over town – along the freeway, at intersections, at the mall, the airport, and inside office buildings.

Aesthetic concerns exist about the size and brightness of digital signage, not to mention the potential to affect public safety. As an advertising tool, digital sign technology is designed to capture a person’s attention. The question is, do the signs and billboards capture attention for a time period significant enough to contribute to accidents?

Cities around the country are answering in the affirmative, restricting digital sign technology, or banning its use entirely. Many face protracted legal battles as a result. Both the American Planning Association and the National League of Cities have publicly accused the billboard industry of aggressively suing cities and towns over billboard regulations. But industry advocates argue digital signs and billboards are routinely used to effectively transmit public service announcements, including “Amber Alerts” and en route traffic delays for motorists.

Opponents of the proposed city of Spokane ordinance say the 45-page zoning proposal could cost some local businesses tens of thousands of dollars to replace existing signs. If enacted, the ordinance would outlaw changing-image signs like the one outside the INB Performing Arts Center, as well as changing time and temperature signs all over town. If you’re looking to get in on the discussion, drop by City Hall tonight at 6 p.m.; 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.


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