SCRUB: “Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity”.

By Sabrine Tribié
For SCRUB, the Public Voice for Public Space

SCRUB, the Public Voice for Public Space recently released a ground breaking study entitled “Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity”.  The paper was written by urban planner Jonathan Snyder with the support of a grant from the Samuel S. Fels Fund.  Snyder received a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a concentration in Community and Economic Development.

Snyder’s research focused on whether economic prosperity is best served by strict sign control laws.  He combined US Census, local home price and zoning code data with geographic information system (GIS) and statistical analysis tools in order to address three key questions: What impact do billboards have on real estate prices in the City of Philadelphia?  What impact do billboards have on home value within census tracts in the City of Philadelphia?  What impact do billboard regulations have on median income, poverty rates and vacancy rates in different cities in the United States?  No other known studies examine how billboards affect their surrounding area, or explore the relationship between billboard controls and the economic condition of U.S. cities.

What impact do billboards have on real estate prices in the City of Philadelphia?

Snyder found that there is a statistically significant correlation between real estate value and proximity to billboards.  Residential real estate within 500 feet of a billboard is $30,826 less valuable at the time of purchase.  In contrast, each additional SQ FT of livable area has an $89.34 increase in price, and properties located within 1,000 ft. of amenities such as parks and bike paths are correlated with a higher real estate price.

What impact do billboards have on home value within census tracts in the City of Philadelphia?

Snyder determined that for each additional billboard in a census tract, there is a $947 decrease in home value.  The average number of billboards in a given census tract is 4.8, which results in a $4,546 overall decrease per house within that tract compared to an equivalent home in a tract without billboards.

 

What impact do billboard regulations have on median income, poverty rates and vacancy rates in different cities in the United States?

Snyder concluded that cities with strict sign controls have higher income rates and lower home vacancy and poverty rates than cities without strict sign controls.  His conclusion came from a cluster analysis of the sign codes for 20 US cities. 

The timing of this research is crucial.  This year, the Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission drafted a proposed new zoning code and presented it to City Council with the goal of modernizing the zoning process.  A signage control “working group” has been established to prepare revised sections on accessory and non-accessory outdoor advertising.  During difficult economic times, the impact of signage laws on the overall fiscal health of Philadelphia and Philadelphia residents could not be more relevant or timely. 

For more information on SCRUB please see www.publicvoiceforpublicspace.org or call 215-731-1775

Click here to download the study

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.