Moratorium Decision Expected

 
The billboard industry is whipping up opposition to the Reno City Council’s recent unanimous decision to finally enforce the people’s billboard ban, which will be discussed at Feb. 8’s council session.

What: Reno City Council meeting, Agenda Item F 1
Where: City Hall, 1 East First Street, Reno
When: 1 p.m., Wednesday, February 8

Join us, starting at 1 p.m. at city hall to thank the council and encourage them to stand firm and move forward with the billboard moratorium they requested – the first step necessary to prevent new billboards within the Reno city limits. If you can’t make the meeting, please email the council with your comments. Click here.

The council determined in December that the billboard ban approved by 32,765 Reno voters in 2000, over 16 years ago, should no longer be ignored. And Wednesday the council is expected to give formal approval for the moratorium, beginning the process of dismantling the current billboard policy that allows new construction of billboards within Reno city limits.

Billboard Industry Opposition

YESCO, a Utah sign company, is circulating an email asking local businesses to come down to city hall and oppose the moratorium so that new billboards, including digital ones can be built in Reno. Lamar Advertising, a Louisiana based company and Saunders Outdoor another Utah based company joined YESCO representatives at recent council meetings insisting billboards are necessary for local businesses to survive.

The council is well aware that there are about 200 existing billboards on Reno’s streets and highways that will remain and would not be affected by the moratorium or by the ban on new billboard construction. Plus, there are many other advertising methods available, making it very doubtful that any local business will be harmed.

Literally thousands of residents, over the years, have come out against new billboards. Through the citywide vote in 2000, a voter survey in 2011 and a petition circulated early this year, residents have said new billboards should be banned.

Once the moratorium is in place, the city could not accept applications for new standard and digital billboards for one year. During that time, the council is expecting staff to rewrite the current billboard ordinance so that it reflects the voter’s intent to end new billboard construction.

Council’s New Policy Upsets Billboard Industry

The council’s decision is a major shift in billboard policy, which is upsetting to the billboard industry. Used to getting its way since the 2000 vote, billboard owners were allowed new signs, despite the ban on new construction. Under the current policy, when one comes down a new billboard can be erected in a new location. If a new location is not available, the sign owner can bank the permit until one is found, creating a backlog of about 82 billboard permits. The previous city council then enacted new regulations to allow digital billboards. The industry was hoping that it could use its banked permits to erect digital billboards, which are far more lucrative than standard billboards.

And that is what the billboard industry fears most – no digital billboards and the gradual reduction over time of standard billboards – not the wellbeing of Reno’s local businesses.

Council Member Naomi Durer in December said it this way, “I believe we should find a way to meet the voters’ intent,” Duerr said. “I think we should challenge our staff, challenge our attorney’s to do that. This is a new day. We have a policy decision in front of us. We have a choice about how we want our community to look.”

Join us Wednesday at city hall or email the council with your encouragement and support for the moratorium and for enforcing the people’s billboard ban.