In the ASLA policy committee discussion this morning, we had a rousing discussion about how to update the billboards policy, especially with the proliferation of electronic signage and supergraphics.
Our consensus was that signs (of all sorts) should reinforce a sense of place. Banners, bus shelters, other street furniture, bus wraps, sidewalk stickers, and billboards all add to visual clutter of cities (and highways). There are notorious examples of billboards causing a public nuisance, such as the traffic jams in Chicago at the Dennis Rodman billboard.
There is a place in the built environment for graphics and signs, but the status quo in which outdoor advertisers do what they please, and regularly flaunt the law, should not be tolerated. I certainly see a stark distinction between commercial speech and what the first amendment protects. I’m glad that there are folks mobilized to fight billboards and even studies providing solid justification for the removal of all billboards.
Up in the Owens Valley, I’ve been struck by the saturation of bill boards on the Piute-Shoshone Reservation in contrast with the billboard free remainder of the Valley. While I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of the tribe, I really question if their gains outweigh the blight? This is a clear example of the social and environmental justice aspect of outdoor advertising exploiting lower income and politically disenfranchised areas.
To finish with a good example of environmental graphics, below is the Greenpix Zero Energy Media Wall in Beijing.