The billboard discussion planned for this week (April 26) did not make it on the agenda and officials say the discussion is now planned for June 7 during the Reno City Council’s regular meeting, starting at 6 p.m.
We’re not certain why the date changed but please mark your calendars. We’ll need plenty of support in June to help convince the council to finally enforce the people’s billboard ban on new construction. Anything could happen so check for emails from Scenic Nevada or the city’s website at www.reno.gov.
Enforce the Vote
At issue is whether the city should enforce the people’s 2000 ballot initiative approved by 57% of the voters. Scenic Nevada authored the legislation to stop the proliferation of new billboards in Reno. After it passed, the previous city council concocted a workaround to allow new billboards. When one came down, the sign owner was granted a receipt to build a new one in a new location. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that scheme was unconstitutional because it amended the people’s vote within three years of its passage, which isn’t allowed.
It’s long past the three-year limit on making changes. The current city council has a choice to make; keep allowing new billboards or enforce the vote. The previous council in 2012 also approved regulations that would have allowed new digital billboards, flipping every eight seconds, flashing changing ads, day and night. Those regulations are on hold while the current city council sorts through the billboard issues.
Scenic Nevada commissioned a poll to find out if residents today feel the same as voters did 17 years ago when the ban was approved. The results show even more are concerned about the negative impacts of billboards. Click here to see the polling results.
• Enforce the ban? 78% said yes; 15% said no; 8% not sure.
• Concern about traffic safety and distracted driving? 83% would be concerned, if digital billboards are allowed; 17% not concerned.
• Digital billboards make Reno less attractive. 70% agree; 30% disagree.
• Viewing a billboard outside your home or office window? 80% would object; 15% would not object; 5% unsure.
• Concern about decreasing property values because of new billboards? 74% are concerned; 25% not concerned.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, NC on April 6 and 7 and includes 717 responses. The results demonstrate a “bipartisan, broad-based and diverse” coalition of support for enforcing the billboard ban, the company said in its report on the survey results. Read the report.
Scenic Nevada’s Request
The results confirm what we’ve long suspected; Reno residents are not content with the city’s policies for the past decade and want the voter approved billboard ban honored. City staff also agrees and in its last report March 22 to the council said essentially that new standard and digital billboards should not be allowed. An online petition signed by almost 600 persons also asks the council to enforce the billboard ban. See the petition and leave a comment for the council.
Billboards blight our neighborhood commercial areas, block pristine scenic views of the Sierras and continue to weigh down Reno’s economic development. Digital billboards are intrusive energy hogs that dim the night sky, distract drivers and can be viewed for miles. Under state law, billboards are considered a public nuisance that require regulations.
On June 7, we want the Reno City Council to direct staff to rewrite the billboard laws to reflect the will of the voters. That would mean no new billboards, standard or digital. And in the future when one is removed the permit can’t be used again to build a new one. The existing 182 billboards now lining Reno’s streets and highways are not affected by the ban and would remain. But, over time, the clutter and blight caused by billboards would diminsh as sign owners take them down voluntarily when leases expire or property is redeveloped.
We’ll keep you posted on the next billboard discussion as details become available.
Scenic Nevada is a non-profit, staffed by volunteers, whose mission is to preserve, protect and enhance scenic beauty and community character in Nevada. We depend on the generosity of our members to continue our mission. If you haven’t renewed or aren’t members yet, consider donating today. Click here.
Many thanks from,
The Scenic Nevada Board