Good for business or bad for scenery? Salt Lake City renews battle with billboard industry

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  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 15, 2012 1:38 p.m.

    Listetning to talk radiio a while back, there was a business owner on who does remodeling of homes. He says he was able to grow his business by advertising on electronic bill boards. It is less expensive than buying space on a regular bill board he said and it lets people know of his service. It has worked well for him. I suppose one could say the same about radio or a regular bill board, they help business to get started and to grow.

    I remember as a kid I hated advertisements on radio, they were interruptions to the music I used to listen to. I didn't understand economics then. I now see advertisements as the grease that helps a capitalistic system run smoothly. We all want beauty, but we also all want jobs and useful services. If its too difficult for businesses that employ people and offer useful services to get started or sustain themselves, we won't have as many of them.

    The sign companies themselves provide jobs and they helo other bisinesses to provide jobs and opportunities for other people to start and sustain businesses. We need to keep this in mind.

  • OLD-GUY Central, Utah
    April 15, 2012 1:28 a.m.

    Just a couple of random thoughts.

    An employee of the Young Sign Company stopped one day & helped me with a car problem. Thanks!

    Like others have mentioned, I have lived and worked in various states, even on one job I traveled from LA to the outer banks of Maryland. I don't believe I have ever bought anything, even a motel room. because of a billboard. Obviously others have.

    I think they pose a hazzard just as the flashing Thanksgiving Point distracts a driver from concentrating on the highway. I have personally witnessed a driver drift over when trying to read a billboard and some of them have too much or too small letters to read at highway speed.

    Finally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder & maybe there are some who think they look nice. In the past I would make my travel route away from "ugly" places whenever I could. That includes junk, bad buildings and billboards. Missouri used to be so bad they would stack one on top of another, giving 4 billboard faces (2 each direction) that to me looked "ugly."

    I'm glad we are not that bad yet.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 14, 2012 4:09 p.m.

    Salt Lake City, Utah --

    About as tactless and trashy as other high class International cities such as;
    Tiajuana, Mexica - Bogata, Columbia - and Bombay, India.

    BTW - When I want electronic advertising, I'll turn on my computer.

  • Broken Arrow Draper, UT
    April 14, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    I think a lot of Utah residents are so used to billboards that they don't realize what an eyesore they are for people visiting from outside our state. We should consider changing our state advertising slogan from "Life Elevated" to "Advertising Elevated."

    I'm firmly in support of Mayor Becker on this one and would like to see our state legislators get behind him. It's not only a huge problem for Salt Lake City, but extends to other areas as well.

    I'm sorry for Mr. Young and Mr. Regan, but you simply happen to be in a business that detracts from the beauty of our state.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    April 14, 2012 1:35 p.m.

    I'm in business and advertising. I'm also alive and have no desire to have my view of the Grand Canyon commercialized just because you want to sell something.

    For the advertiser, 90% or more of the billboards do NOT help your business and in fact are an enormous waste of your money. That's mainly because you chose to put up more than a few words with an irrelevant picture that is not clear, concise or direct.

    But regardless, don't block my view!!! Becker is finally right.

  • Gracie Boise, ID
    April 14, 2012 11:56 a.m.

    The article left out the obvious, that constantly changing electronic billboards are freeway distractions. At least a few Comments responded to that, mostly from people who don't live in Utah but know its freeways. Business and pleasure trips most of my life kept me driving throughout the USA and parts of Canada. I've lived in downtown Salt Lake and in enough regions to make qualified comparisons. Salt Lake City is on my short list for some of the most dangerous freeways in the country. They were definitely not designed with tourism in mind. When I lived there, I learned how to get where I needed to go but it took a lot of mistaken routes first. Lanes open up without sufficient notice and close about the same way or much too quickly; drivers are particularly aggressive, tailgating while texting or phoning; competing electronic billboards temporarily take busy eyes off the road as they're designed to do. This winter I drove in for a couple of days. Since I moved away a decade ago, driving has become even worse. Billboards are great for the billboard business and dangerous for already endangered drivers.

  • slpa1 West Jordan, UT
    April 14, 2012 11:48 a.m.

    If you really want to see what life could be like without the blight of billboards and other garish signs, visit Scottsdale, Arizona. As you drive around town, you will notice that almost all the power lines are underground, businesses have small signs placed tastefully, and there are no billboards.

    Despite the strict regulations, businesses thrive, especially upscale developments. While Yesco and Reagan argue otherwise, it is clear they are just looking out for their bottom line, not the best interests of the businesses or communities. Scottsdale is just one location where the regulations have been successful in "clearing the air" so to speak. Several other metro areas around Phoenix are following suit.

    Utah could learn something from Scottsdale.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2012 11:32 a.m.

    Vermont bans billboards (leading to an odd quirk of new york billboards advertising for things in Vermont), it's one of my favorite things abot the state.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 14, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    I think a picture is worth a 1000 words...

    See photo and you be the judge on billboards...

  • Wanderer West Jordan, UT
    April 14, 2012 11:12 a.m.

    I'd rather see an electronic sign that can represent multiple needs and advertisers than a motley assortment of tattered and out-of-date billboards. Technology is giving the cities an opportunity to condense the number of signs and still meet advertising needs.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    "Outdoor advertising officials counter that the only reason state lawmakers have to get involved is because municipalities and environmental groups have placed a bull's-eye on their backs."

    Reagan and Yesco need to understand that municipalities represent the people more closely than the State does. Local governments consist of people who live and work where billboards aren't wanted -- they care about their communities, and don't want them littered up. State legislators yield more easily because if the billboard blight doesn't get put in his or her neighborhood, there's little political cost to themselves and a nice campaign contribution comes in return.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    I'm sorry for Jeffrey Young, who is completely out of touch in his confidence it's just a "small group of planners" and "environmental groups" who want to "regulate, limit and restrict" the outdoor advertising industry.

    I'm not in an environmental group. I live in Salt Lake County, not the city. I'm a Republican. And I'm against these electronic and traditional billboard eyesores, this "litter on a stick", as it's called. Sorry for those whose livelihood is in this business, but truly this form of advertising, in such a beautiful place as we live, is offensive. May YESCO and Reagan find other ways to make their living than uglifying this beautiful land.

    State legislators who will agree to serious restrictions on outdoor advertising will have the support of many more than a small group of planners and environmentalists. They have the support of all who value civility and beauty.

    Here's wishing Ralph Becker great success, and may he be joined by many Republicans in this battle.

  • Te Amo Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2012 9:48 a.m.

    This should be a major safety issue. These signs because they change about as fast as you can read them not only take your mind off of driving but they also take your eyes off the road. The signs are a thousand times worse than phones and that safety issue has already been established. For that reason the signs should be completely outlawed. In addition it should not be a city wide issue because it really doesn't affect 90% of city residents. It is a neighborhood issue and those making the decisions should be the people who have to live with them every day in their neighborhoods. Having had the battle with Reagan about getting his sign off a building which my wife purchased, I believe his automatic renewal contracts shgould be outlawed. They are difficult for people with limited resources to beat, but not impossible. It took two and a half years but his sign is gone.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    April 14, 2012 9:33 a.m.

    I was born in Logan, but moved out at age 4 (1971) and have lived in 6 states, including Hawaii (4th grade through high school). I'm glad the article pointed out that HI and 3 other states have no billboards. Each summer as we traveled to Utah to visit grandparents, I noticed the ugly billboards. They really do mar the view, and they are tacky. Old fashioned or electronic, makes no difference. Nowhere else I've lived has as many billboards as UT. We have a few here in VA but nowhere near as many as UT. I disagree with Dew that billboards should be only outside the city; they are ugly both inside and outside cities. I'm a conservative, free enterprise sort of person; and yet even I think billboards should be cut back severely or banned. For those who are so used to them you don't notice how ugly they are, or have never lived outside of UT, please take a drive out of state and see the difference.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2012 9:05 a.m.

    I'm from out of state, but come to visit ALC several times a year to see family. I don't go downtown much, but the drive along I-15, heading south to the point of the moutain is horrible. All the signs and guess what? Everybody here seems to think that 65 means 80mph so how can they read the billboards anyway. Second, I can't believe how many people are texting and driving so they aren't even looking at the billboards. I phones and Smart phones I believe have replace billboards for the most part because you just have to get on and google what you want to find and where it's located. I don't own one of those fabulous phones, but if I want to find out about a symphony etc. I would call them or look on the computer. it's not like you need to know about it while you're driving. Please don't allow anymore billboards. If you have to. . only allow them to a certain height. I love seeing the moutains here.

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    April 14, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    take them down. very tacky

    April 14, 2012 7:28 a.m.

    When visiting the Salt Lake area, I was overwhelmed with the number of billboards crowding I-15. In my opinion, it blights an otherwise beautiful region. They could arguably be considered safety distractions for motorists, as well. I like my neighboring state's- Vermont-approach. They have banned billboards, and instead have simple small signs indicating business locations to passing motorists.
    A similar ban was promoted in New York State, but business groups successfully killed it, basing it on a constitutional freedom of speech angle. Even our northern neighbor, Montreal, doesn't have as many billboards, as crowded along I-15 in SLC.
    Good luck with that issue, Utah!

  • Andy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 14, 2012 6:20 a.m.

    I agree with Becker, the billboards ruin salt lake city. It is an expensive legal fight to have them removed, and Regan is a big campaign contributor (making it even more expensive), but there are ways and we the people of such a beautiful city should make it happen.

    I was in colorado the other day and couldn't believe how much nicer it was not to have billboards trashing up the place.

    Go Ralph Go!!!!

  • DEW Sandy, UT
    April 14, 2012 6:20 a.m.

    I said it once and will say again. Billbaord should be outside the city primiter (sp?). Like South of Nephi, north of Brigham City, west of Grantsville and WEST of Utah/Wyo Border and nothing in between them!

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    April 14, 2012 6:12 a.m.

    To be more exact to this toned down report by the DN tabloid, is the fact that these signs are a driving hazard that grossly blokes road and traffic signs. We all have a right to visibility and views as citizens and other business in the city. It means one business does not have the right to block the rights of other business store fronts and store mounted signs.

    Most cities and I think Utah has similar laws that business and zoning laws must be agreeable by all business and citizens to views and scenery rights. Road signs should at least follow the sign laws of all business in size, location, and displaying and cannot interfere with the comfort and safety for drivers and citizens. Then the LUX or brightness of the lighting should be such that at night they are not a flood light.

    Citizens do have a right to their scenic views according to federal highway beautification acts and theses signs are in complete violation. There is intentional installation of these sign along the freeways and roads to block the view of drivers and distract them from attentive driving is cause enough to tear them down.

  • Eagles63 Provo, UT
    April 14, 2012 6:03 a.m.

    Utah, unfortunately, has some of the most ugly highways in America. Most are surrounded by hideous commercial, run-down industrial and, of course, the billboards. The only saving grace is nature and sound walls that hide the first two in some places. I can appreciate that no one wants to live near freeways and therefore locating the first two is logical, but I mean where were the standards in making our commercial/industrial have some respect for appearance. I would say we need a lot more sound walls and then let's tackle the billboards. Unfortunately, the latter isn't likely since we're talking revenues. Alas, we still have the mountains. I do try to focus on those when I drive in Salt Lake, Davis or Utah Counties.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    April 13, 2012 11:34 p.m.

    Billboards are helpful for telling me where not to shop.

  • utesovertide Salt Lake City, UT
    April 13, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    This is one area where I disagree with Mayor Becker. Electronic billboards look much better than their old-fashioned counterparts and always have fresh looking ads. The old ones always look like they are going to fall over, and half the ad is ripped off or bubbled after a while.

    The electronic boards will make the city look more modern, and will actually encourage the billboard companies to replace their old, dingy boards they currently have up. But if they are not encouraged to do so because of a restriction on new electronic signs, we will be left with crumbling billboards in Salt Lake City, which seems to go against what we want.

    On a more personal note, I have been notified of a lot of arts events such as the Symphony, rock concerts, and community events via the few electronic boards in Salt Lake (which are by the exit I use to get to and from work). They are effective and I feel they help keep me informed of things going on in downtown Salt Lake City. And isn't that what we want so that people will come downtown for events?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 13, 2012 6:07 p.m.

    When it comes to bill boards, Salt Lake Valley takes the crown. It has to have more bill board per highway mile than any other place in the world. It make Las Vegas look like an Amish colony. I understand free enterprise, but common folks, are Utah's drives that hard up to buy things they have t be sold to ever 1/10 of mile they drive? I guess they do.

    Salt Lake Valley happens to have the distention of the one of the most beautiful and yet most ugly places all at once. For all the wonder of Gods creation surrounding it, evidently there is a huge need to advertise bankruptcy lawyers at every corner.

    Just my opinion, your milage may vary.