STOP THE DIGITAL BILLBOARD PLAGUE

If ever there was a time for action, it is now. There are two proposals before the City’s zoning boards that can have a long-lasting impact on your quality of life. Digital billboards have been creeping into our neighborhoods, but now there is a pivotal case coming up that may impact how large these can be and where they can be placed. If we lose this one, our landscape will be forever changed.

Digital billboards change at a rate of no more frequently than 8 seconds. Drivers watching for that 8 seconds or for a few seconds waiting for the next display is enough time for a fatal car crash, a car/pedestrian or bike accident, or even just a traffic-snarling fender-bender. They are a definite distraction not appropriate for our city streets. In addition, they will add to the sky glow that keeps us from seeing our stars at night. And finally they are a distinct blight on our mountain views of Camelback and Piestewa Peak. These billboards were intended to be along highways and in agricultural areas, not on our local streets.

What can you do?

1. At 4234 E. Indian School Road, ZA-486-17-6 (Sign). This is a massive billboard, erected by Becker Boards and they increased the size of the billboard without opposition because of assurances that it would not be digital. This is obviously not the case. Just 3 weeks after the initial approval they filed for a digital sign. That was denied and they are appealing that denial. AONA and ACMNA are in opposition to the appeal. We need letters written to zoning@phoenix.gov and to craig.mavis@phoenix.gov stating opposition to this billboard. Please put the zoning number above in the subject line. In addition, we need as many people as possible to show up for the hearing on March 1 at the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 West Jefferson. Time will be posted as soon as available. This is a watershed case, and if allowed to go forward will set a precedent for more and more large digital billboards on our city streets.

2. At 2909 North 56th Street, ZA-637-17-6 (Sign). This is just north of Thomas on the east side of 56th Street. Outfront Media is requesting a slightly smaller sign, but still substantial. This is in opposition to the efforts to re-design 56th Street as a “Complete Street.” The 56th Street SAVES and Connects group has been awarded a large grant from the Maricopa Association of Governments to start the design phase of this project. This intersection is the gateway from Scottsdale and offers a stunning view of Camelback Mountain and Papago Buttes. A digital billboard would not be in keeping with the goals of that new design. In addition, that billboard abuts residential property; definitely not consistent with the intentions of the sign ordinance. Again, please write zoning@phoenix.gov and craig.mavis@phoenix.gov stating opposition to this billboard and put the zoning number above in the subject line. This hearing has been postponed and it is presumed they are waiting for a ruling on the Becker Boards sign. New hearing date will be posted as soon as available.

In addition to writing to the zoning officers, please also write to City Council members and the Mayor. Tell them that we matter as much as the coffers of the treasury, that neighborhoods need to have a voice in changes before they are made, that we are watching them and will remember at election time. You can copy the email block below and paste into the “to” field of your email program.

mayor.stanton@phoenix.gov, council.district.1@phoenix.gov, council.district.2@phoenix.gov, council.district.3@phoenix.gov, council.district.4@phoenix.gov, council.district.5@phoenix.gov, council.district.6@phoenix.gov, council.district.7@phoenix.gov, council.district.8@phoenix.gov

Please don’t let these digital signs take over our lovely neighborhoods. If we don’t speak up now, the precedent will be set and they will proliferate like rabbits. They are cheap to run, bring in revenue to the city, and sneak in claiming “public good” by offering a vehicle for announcements such as Amber and Silver alerts. Do you want one next door to where you live? Would you buy a home next to one? Speak up now please.


Gloria White