Pam Wilson, leader of a group called Scenic San Diego that opposes outdoor advertising, said the council was making a huge mistake that could be the undoing of city sign regulations that are the envy of other large cities across the nation. She said making an exception for the kiosks opens San Diego up to digital billboards and other intense advertising that is outlawed here but common in Los Angeles, Phoenix and other large cities. “We are a market they are dying to get into,” she said. Wilson also called the deal a “snow job,” contending that proponents’ focus on wayfinding and help with homelessness are a ruse to distract from the kiosks being all about advertising. She also complained city officials increased the number of kiosks from 50 to 75 this spring without notifying the public, and said the mayor was only making the deal because he wanted to do a financial favor for the Downtown Partnership. The kiosks were also opposed by the Sierra Club and the Save Our Heritage Organisation. Read the full article online at sandiegouniontribune.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Scenic America and Scenic San Diego June 7, 2023. Download this press release (pdf).
JUNE 7, 2023, WASHINGTON, SAN DIEGO - We are disappointed and disheartened at the San Diego City Council’s 7:1 vote to approve up to 75 new digital advertising kiosks in downtown San Diego yesterday. Labeled “wayfinding kiosks” by supporters, these sidewalk billboards will add visual blight, distraction, and confusion to our scenic community beginning in three years.
Not to mention, this program is counter to San Diego’s longstanding outdoor advertising laws, which have kept our community nearly free of such visual pollution for four decades.
San Diego was the first to take a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing its legal authority to limit outdoor advertising clutter in the 1981 case Metromedia v. San Diego. The city then became a nationwide leader when it froze the number of billboards at those existing in 1983.
By approving these kiosks, the City Council has opened the door for advertising companies to file for similar exemptions. It cannot be overstated that the Council’s ruling could devastate the scenic character of our community.
Scenic San Diego volunteer director Pam Wilson voiced the opposition of over a hundred San Diegans to the digital kiosk proposal at the June 6th San Diego City Council meeting. With a presentation outlining conflicts of interest, overblown benefit claims and the dangers of undermining San Diego’s historic sign ordinance, Wilson spoke passionately against the proposal.
To watch the full meeting online go to the City of San Diego City Council webcasts page, scroll down to the agenda and select Item #334. Go to the webcasts page.
Scenic San Diego’s surveillance questions remain unanswered by EDD Christina Bibler, despite her email promise to address them
At the March 8th Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations committee meeting, City of San Diego Economic Development Director Christina Bibler (left) promised Council Pro Tem Montgomery Steppe that her questions about surveillance ordinance exemptions in relation to the proposed digital kiosks would be answered before the kiosks came to the full council. To our knowledge, no answers have been provided. Furthermore, Director Bibler promised to answer our questions about the kiosks, but to this date, she has not done so. Instead we have received the following by email, with the last response on April 13th, 2023 (over 45 days ago).
6/3/23 - At the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations committee meeting on March 8th 2023, Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe asked what exemption from the City’s surveillance ordinance the kiosks fit into. Staff referred this question to the Deputy City Attorney present, who said questions about surveillance are deferred to the Mayor’s office, or something like that. To which, Montgomery Steppe says “That’s a new one.”
Staffer Christina Bibler then claimed the questions would be answered before it came to full council, including in a staff report, but to our knowledge, these questions have never been answered. View the full video (skip to 1:05:45). For a transcript of the exchange, click Read more.
Scenic San Diego is an all-volunteer coalition of concerned citizens and organizations who favor strong sign ordinances and oppose billboards and other advertising sign proliferation.