Tampa City Council delays decision on electronic billboards

12/03/09 Seán Kinane
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Tampa City Council will put off any decision about electronic billboards until after the release of a federal report about safety concerns. In a workshop today Council member John Dingfelder said he was not pleased with a draft ordinance under consideration.

Dingfelder: "It appears that the industry sort of drafted this and handed this to the city as a, quote, compromise. It is a compromise of what? So I say that we should now take the reins and draft or continue in the process of drafting a digital billboard ordinance."

City Council asked for input from Pinellas County’s Bill Johnson about their experience with electronic billboards and companies.

Johnson: "In Pinellas County we have had several problems with our billboard agreements. CBS Outdoor failed to remove 30% of the billboards they were supposed to remove between '02 and '08, seven out of twenty three. There have been problems with our Tri-Visions signs, the billboard companies are allowing them to change more frequently than the sixty seconds."

Todd Pressman is a lobbyist for one of the billboard companies, Clear Channel Outdoor. He says people should not be concerned about electronic billboards, because they only put out as much light as the moon.

Pressman: "I don't think the council has gotten complaints about moonlight."

During public comment, eight members of the public opposed the current draft.

In January, Tampa City Council will hear a report from staff about how many electronic billboards are out of compliance with current city code. Council will hold a workshop next April 22nd to work out details of the electronic billboard ordinance.

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