Jason Hagey writes in this morning's News Tribune of things heating up a bit over local billboards. Owner of all 193 Tacoma billboards Clear Channel has already fired a few warning shots at the City. Seems this industry has been able to swat down strict billboard ordinances like the one Tacoma passed ten years ago. Their argument comes from the angle of compensation for removal of the structures and is probably a sound one. That and the idea that they could keep such an issue in the courts for who-knows-how-long and cost the City tons in legal fees.
From the article:
Chris Artman, president of Clear Channel Outdoor Northwest, told The News Tribune on Thursday that his company wants to meet with Tacoma officials to work out a solution. "This isn’t something that needs to end up in litigation," Artman said.
The same day, the city received a letter from a Clear Channel attorney stating that the city's ordinance was unconstitutional and unenforceable. Even if it was enforceable, the company would be owed $50 million or $60 million to remove the signs, wrote Seattle attorney Paul Taylor.
"Clear Channel's billboards in Tacoma are worth millions of dollars," Taylor said. "Absent an agreed resolution, Clear Channel has no choice but to vigorously protect its interest. There will be protracted, expensive multi-year litigation."
I would imagine compensation of some kind would be necessary in most cases. But, for whatever the City can't get taken down for free, pay 'em. Work it out so over the next 10 years we rid ourselves of these ads. Do it one by one and, sooner than we know it, they'll be gone. Nevertheless, it'll be interesting in the local city council election to keep a close eye on whether any candidates do or do not want to uphold the billboard ordinance and, if not, whether they receive any donation at all from Clear Channel.