Public records search by ECM finds 1,805 accidents, including 20 fatalities and 673 injuries from 2018 to the present
By Miriam Raftery
October 12, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – On Sept. 27, the La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 to ask staff to prepare a request for proposals to erect electronic billboards along Interstate 8 and potentially, other areas in the city, with only Councilman Jack Shu voting against the proposal. Shu and other opponents argued that these could distract drivers, particularly near the interchange of I-8 and State Route 125.
How dangerous is that area already?
To find out, East County Magazine obtained public records from California Highway Patrol. We requested data on accidents along I-8 east and west throughout the city of La Mesa from Lake Murray Blvd. on the west to Chase Ave. in El Cajon, since one billboard site would be near the La Mesa/El Cajon boundary. We also asked for data on accidents on onramps connecting I-8 and SR 125.
The data reveals that from Jan. 1, 2018 to Oct. 10, 2023, there were 1,805 accidents in those locations.
Those accidents resulted in 20 fatalities and 673 injuries.
The vast majority of those occurred on I-8. On I-8 west alone, there were 1,000 crashes, resulting in 5 fatalities and 383 injuries. On I-8 east, there 642 crashes, including 8 fatalities and 233 injuries.
Don Wood, a vocal opponent of the proposed e-billboards, told ECM, “I’m not surprised,” by this data. He added, “There are numerous lane changes in the vicinity merging in that section…so it’s not surprising that we would have many accidents in that stretch. Adding flashing digital billboards showing thousands of different advertisements daily would only add to the confusion and distraction. This is San Diego, where we have a lot of drivers who are drunk, drugged and distracted.”
Read the full article online at eastcountymagazine.org/how-dangerous-area-where-la-mesa-seeks-erect-digital-billboards.
By Miriam Raftery
September 28,2023 (La Mesa) – Last night, the La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 to ask staff to prepare a revised RFP (request for proposals) for digital billboards, with Councilman Jack Shu opposed.
The action reverse a July 25 vote, when Council rejected a similar proposal by a 3-2 vote. The major difference? The new plan would provide that any revenues the city receives off digital billboards for the first five years would be spent equally on police, fire protection, and the arts, said Councilman Colin Parent, who introduced the revised measure.
Several people showed up before the meeting with protest signs, such as “Keep digital billboards out of La Mesa,” though some others spoke in support.
The city attorney explained that the current municipal code prohibits electronic billboards, so before Council could approval and proposal that the RFP might elicit, Council would have to amend the municipal code. The state law prohibits new billboards, so only replacement of existing billboards could occur. The federal Highway Beautification Act would also apply.
Councilmember Patricia Dillard peppered the city attorney with questions, revealing that Cal Trans prohibits advertising on billboards on landscaped property maintained by Cal Trans.”The whole point is revenues. If we can’t do advertising, that’s a deal breaker,”she said.
The city attorney indicated the RFP would require any proposals to demonstrate compliance with city, state and federal laws. Dilllard responded this seems like putting “the cart before the horse.” She also asked for safety data, but the attorney said that data would be requested as part of the RFP process, then come back to the council for public vetting.
During public comments, speakers were sharply divided on the issue.
Opponents cited concerns ranging from safety to aesthetics.
Paul Krueger urged Council to reject any efforts to move forward on digital billboards. He lives in San Diego near near SDSU. He objects to electronic billboards and kiosks as “garish and unsafe.” He called on the Council to find other sources of funding for public safety and the arts.
Read the full article online at eastcountymagazine.org/la-mesa-revives-heated-debate-over-digital-billboards.
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.
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.
Times of San Diego "Opinion: Digital Kiosks Are First Step to Blighting San Diego with Ad Billboards"
By Pamela Wilson. Excerpted from Times of San Diego. Read the full version online at timesofsandiego.com.
Mayor Todd Gloria was a councilmember in 2013 when the Land Use and Housing Committee rejected a developer’s bid to demolish sign limits by draping downtown with nearly 100 building wraps and other ad media, including kiosks like those now envisioned. Now the Mayor has abandoned his past defense of our city’s distinct character, using his power under the strong mayor system to sidestep transparent review of this drastic zoning exception. Four no votes at the June 6 council meeting are required to prevent San Diego from becoming just another ad-blighted city.
Rumors are rampant at City Hall that the ad screens are just the tip of the iceberg. Next will be a wholesale dismantlement of sign limits — so expect wraps, digital billboards, and other visual litter in the near future. This explains why unprecedented exceptions to sign limits are proposed for the paltry sum of about $600,000 in total revenue per year for the general fund. There is no plausible motive other than to incrementally erode our sign limits by auctioning our field of vision to the highest bidder.
Doing so will brand our elected council as less progressive than appointed Port Commissioners, who in 2018 rejected similar ad kiosks along our waterfront by the same vendor, IKE Smart City. Debate on those kiosks lasted for a year and included a robust discussion of the data-gathering technology contained in these devices. But this year, the info-capturing capabilities of interactive signs have been obfuscated in staff reports and minimized in ad agency testimony — and not even explained in the agreement the council will vote on.
It’s a stunning turnabout that councilmembers who claim to be most concerned about remedying the city’s entrenched patterns of inequality and addressing climate change are embracing an industry that stands for the opposite. The internet is replete with critiques of the advertising business as one that targets poor communities, promotes unhealthy consumerism and over-consumption, spews visual pollution, and accelerates climate change. No elected official can claim to be progressive while backing this regressive policy reversal."
Excerpted from Time of San Diego. Read the full version online at timesofsandiego.com.
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.