Philadelphia City Council is moving forward on new billboard regulations designed to supplement the new zoning code that failed to address the auxiliary sign issue.
It’s taken about three years to finally come up with a workable billboard deal, said Councilman Bobby Henon. It provides a two-for-one swap in parts of the city for anyone wanting to convert a conventional billboard to one of the new high-tech digital signs.
“We have the opportunity to put a good foundation, no pun intended, to outdoor advertising,” Henon said Thursday. “Real regulation that is going to be sensitive to the community, yet be open for business for the city of Philadelphia in order to generate some additional revenue.”
The expected revenue will stem from a fee of $1 for every square foot of billboard space that will be collected every five years.
Henon’s bill also stipulates that digital signs cannot be within 500 feet of residential neighborhoods and cannot face a neighborhood within 1,000 feet.
The compromise is a good one, said George Kroculick, an attorney for one of the major billboard companies in the city.
“The billboard industry is well aware of the perception of others in the community. We are very grateful, however, that we have rules that we can understand,” he said. “It puts everyone on an even playing field.”
But not everyone is completely happy with the bill.
Mary Tracy, head of the group Scenic Philadelphia, said the mandate to dim the digital billboards at night is good.
“We’re really concerned about the brightness of these signs — they are already three times brighter than a conventional sign,” she said. “But it’s come down … hopefully, they will come down some more. But if not we can live with it.”
The bill is expected to be approved next week.