Planning commission okays 50 (with an option to add up to 75)
By Sheila Pell
They're a step closer to landing on a sidewalk downtown, but not an inch closer to universal love: dozens of eight-foot-tall digital kiosks that threaten to end the city's historic ban on new outdoor advertising.
The Planning Commission last week voted 4-2 to recommend the San Diego City Council amend its sign ordinance to allow for at least 50 digital advertising and wayfinding kiosks downtown - a project the city calls a "pilot."
It's similar to a plan the port rejected in 2018, and some say San Diego, a pioneer in warding off once-static billboards, has become a target of visual advertisers.
"We're sort of a pristine little gem here. You don't see this kind of thing, you don't see more billboards. There are no digital billboards," said Pamela Wilson, the founder of Scenic San Diego, urging the commission to vote no.
The city attorney's office has repeatedly warned that allowing exceptions to the offsite advertising ban, as the proposal does, could undermine the legal defensibility of the sign regulations.
"How is this different from just blowing up the sign ordinance and putting advertising around our city?" Palmer asked. Read the full article online at SanDiegoReader.com/news/2023/may/02/stringers-sneaking-ads-kiosks-downtown-san-diego/.
Debates over electronic signs around the world have now arrived in San Diego, which is considering allowing interactive kiosks on its streets. By Megan Graham, TheWallstreetJournal.com.
A series of disputes over digital signs has arrived in sunny San Diego, where critics say a longstanding strict stance on new billboards is now under pressure from a proposal to allow outdoor digital kiosks.
The city council’s economic development committee last month voted in favor of bringing the proposal to the full city council, clearing the way for it to vote on the question, which it is expected to do in May. A 1981 U.S. Supreme Court ruling permitted the city to ban any new billboards that don’t meet certain standards, though those built before then are still standing. “It’s a Trojan horse,” said Lisa Ross, chair of the Sierra Club’s San Diego Chapter, an environmental advocacy group that opposes the proposal. “We think they’re putting revenue ahead of the best interest of the public.”
This Thursday, April 20th, the kiosk proposal will be presented for a vote of the City of San Diego Planning Commission. This is your opportunity to oppose outdoor advertisers’ latest assault. Here's how to take action:
From the San Diego Union-Tribune article by David Garrick:
Could digital ad displays be coming to San Diego? Proposal for 50 interactive kiosks downtown raises visual pollution concerns
"Supporters say they could bring millions in revenue. But the city’s independent budget analyst raised concerns about such ideas in December, a decade after the city attorney issued a similar warning.
San Diego officials are considering an outdoor advertising company’s proposal to install 50 large interactive digital kiosks throughout downtown.
Supporters say the deal would help tourists get around better and provide an estimated $14.7 million in revenue sharing over the next 10 years for the city and another $7 million for the nonprofit San Diego Downtown Partnership.
Critics say it would create visual pollution and force San Diego to amend its carefully crafted sign ordinance, which could lead to large “building wrap” ads that could make downtown look more like Las Vegas or Times Square."
"Scenic San Diego, a group that has successfully fought digital billboards and similar advertising throughout the region, said Tuesday that the proposal could let outdoor advertisers get “a new toehold” here. The Downtown Residents Group has raised concerns about how kiosk locations would be chosen and is lobbying against plans to have the revenue benefit the entire city, contending it should stay downtown." Read the full article online.
Points to ponder
Say No to Digital Kiosks
In 1981, San Diego won a pioneering case that upheld restrictions on off-site commercial advertising in the interests of aesthetics and safety. Subsequent court cases have found that cherry-picked exceptions undermine a government’s claim that strong public policies are advanced by sign limits. Now San Diego’s strong sign laws are again under attack by proponents of a digital ad kiosk proposal that is neither legally nor economically sound. The plan, expected to be voted on by the full City Council later this spring, proposes weakening San Diego’s freeze on outdoor ads to allow installation of 50 digital ad platforms throughout downtown. 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.