The long-awaited discussion and decision on whether to enforce the people’s 2000 vote to ban new billboards will be Wednesday, June 14,during the Reno City Council’s regular meeting at City Hall. The 6 p.m. time certain, courtesy of Mayor Hillary Schieve, is meant to allow more residents to attend.

What: Reno City Council meeting, Agenda Item J. 3
Where: City Hall, 1 East First Street, Reno
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14

Don’t miss your chance to tell council members your concerns about billboards. But, if you can’t attend email the city clerk at cityclerk@reno.gov. Or send in a comment card prior to the meeting. Click here.

Council Contact Info
Also, you can call or email comments directly to council members:
• Mayor Hillary Schieve – schieveh@reno.gov – 334-2001
• Jenny Brekhus – brekhusj@reno.gov – Ward 1 – 334-2011
• Naomi Duerr – duerrn@reno.gov – Ward 2 – 334-2017
• Oscar Delgado – delgadoo@reno.gov – Ward 3 – 334-2012
• Paul McKenzie – mckenziep@reno.gov – Ward 4 – 334-201
• Neoma Jardon – jardonn@reno.gov – Ward 5 – 334-2016

Honor the Vote

After several postponements, the council finally is expected to give direction to city planning staff on how to rewrite the billboard ordinance, the next step in making changes we hope will enforce a vote of the people to ban new construction of billboards.

The previous council enacted city ordinances that allow new billboards, despite the law banning new ones approved by the voters in 2000. Since then the city has allowed new construction; when a billboard comes down a new one can be erected in a new location, most often where no billboard stood before. If there’s nowhere to put it, sign owners can “bank” the permit and use it when a new location is found, leaving a backlog of about 82 unused permits. Also, in 2012, the previous council enacted regulations to allow digital billboards, but those rules were put on hold until our lawsuit challenging them was resolved and the billboard ordinance rewrite is done.

People’s Ban Upheld by Nevada Supreme Court

We’ve argued for the past 17 years that those ordinances were a violation of the ballot initiative approved by 57% of the voters. In an April survey of 717 Reno voters, commissioned by Scenic Nevada, 78% said the city council should honor the vote and not allow new billboards. See the survey results, click here.

The ballot initiative is part of city code today and says:

“The construction of new off-premises advertising displays/billboards is prohibited, and the City of Reno may not issue permits for their construction.”

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in our lawsuit that the city’s scheme allowing new construction unconstitutionally amended the people’s ban within three years of the vote. It’s long past the three year limit and the current city council can enact regulations that honor the vote or repeal it.

Scenic Nevada Requests

Scenic Nevada is asking the city council to void all the regulations allowing new billboards, called banking and relocation ordinances, and the rules allowing digital billboards, keeping the people’s billboard ban intact and allowing attrition to take its toll. Billboards removed for property redevelopment, expired leases or other reasons would not be replaced. Over time attrition would alleviate the clutter and blight billboards clearly bring to our neighborhood commercial areas, like MidTown. Billboards also block scenic views along our highways and contribute to reducing property values. Digital billboards distract drivers, dim the dark night skies and use far too much energy.

Almost six hundred people have signed our petition asking the council to honor the vote. Click here to sign. And in March Reno city staff recommended the council ban digital billboards and end the billboard banking scheme. See Wednesay’s staff report.

The council’s decision can go in any direction. We think the best and simplest one is to enforce the people’s vote; no new construction, which means closing the billboard bank and prohibiting new construction and permits for both standard and digital billboards.

Please come to the June 14 hearing at Reno city hall, starting at 6 p.m. and ask the council to Honor the Vote. Your participation is crucial.