Tampa Council wants ordinance allowing fewer digital billboards

04/22/10 Seán Kinane
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Will Tampa allow digital billboards in the city? That question could have been answered this morning, but was put off by City Council until May.

The city’s legal staff presented Council with 481 pages of documentation related to a proposed billboard ordinance. If passed, it would allow companies to erect digital billboards if they remove some traditional billboards. But Council member Mary Mulhern is not interested in the swap.

Todd Pressman is a lobbyist representing one of the billboard companies, Clear Channel Outdoor. Pressman emphasized the removal of traditional billboards that Clear Channel and another company, CBS Outdoor, would replace with a smaller number of digital billboards.

But Council member John Dingfelder suggested asking the city’s legal staff to draft a compromise where Clear Channel and CBS would each be allowed only six digital billboards. He fears the companies could exploit the ordinance as currently written and get more by creating spin-off companies.

A vote on the ordinance as written failed on a 2-5 vote, with only Council members Joseph Caetano and Gwen Miller supporting it. Council chair Thomas Scott supported Dingfelder’s compromise instead.

A vote on Dingfelder’s compromise failed. But then Council member Linda Saul-Sena asked if she could reconsider her vote against it. It then passed 4-3 with Caetano, Miller, and Mulhern voting against it. Tampa City Council will get consider the new ordinance on first reading on May 6.

Previous WMNF coverage of Tampa billboards

Clear Channel Outdoor

The rejected ordinance

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