Friday, November 14, 2014

Proposed Digital Billboard Ordinance is an Insult to the Public Process

I just posted the following entry on the Indiana Forefront Blog - because my Had Enough Indy blog ist verboten in City Hall.

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The proposed digital billboard ordinance, coming before a Council committee Monday night, is an insult to the public process.

This lobbyist written law would overturn the compromise embodied in the current law, which bans digital billboards in Indianapolis.  The current law was created with a robust, public process that included all stakeholders and was led by a bipartisan Council effort.

The current law has been vigorously defended, both before the Boards of Zoning Appeals, the Metropolitan Development Commission, and in the Courts.

The proposed ordinance would declare that digital billboards erected in Indianapolis are not really illuminated by, among other things, intermittent lights.  Yah, right.  And the emperor is fully clothed.
This particular phrase is included as an end run around a long standing agreement between the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration that, due to the intermittent lighting, bans digital billboards.

The lobbyists also included a provision that would allow the various ads to take up to 2 seconds to transition.  The literature clearly demonstrates that this is a particularly dangerous thing to do.  Two seconds inattention to the road ahead, is considered a hazardous driving condition.  The delayed changeover is specifically used in order to call attention to the ad, as drivers fix their attention, waiting for the next one to appear.

I could mention that a Michigan study demonstrated a statistically significant rise in accidents within 0.25 miles of digital billboards, even while the average accident rate on their highways fell between 2004 and 2012 – representing the years before and after  installation of electronic billboards.  The deviation is an 18% increase in accidents near such a billboard over the expected number.
I could also mention that a 2013 study of digital billboard induced driver distraction in Sweden, led that country to remove the signs and ban them.

Or, I could mention that an Israeli study that demonstrated a decrease in accidents of more than 30% when billboards were covered or removed along a busy Tel Aviv highway.  Injury and deaths from these accidents dropped 69%.

I could mention lots of studies.  But that is not the point I most want to make here.

The billboard lobbyists have been haunting the back rooms of City Hall for years now.  The total revision of our zoning laws has been going on for the last three.  The public could have been included in a review of the digital billboard ban in a comprehensive and valid way.

Instead, we are left out of the loop by some of our own elected officials.  Our previous efforts and our previous compromises are thrown aside as insignificant and meaningless history.

Its bad enough that lobbyists for any industry are allowed free rein to write our laws.  Its even worse when they are overturning a law that involved so many people, so many hours, and so much effort and money to create and defend.

10 comments:

Nicolas Martin said...

Billboards are free speech. Government has no business regulating them. If one presents a major nuisance, which is unlikely, a civil suit can be brought by persons annoyed.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The view is owned by the public. We get to regulate it.

Nicolas Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicolas Martin said...

The view is owned by the public? That is unalloyed totalitarianism.

So, the public (majority) doesn't like to see people kissing in public. Banned. The public doesn't want to see books that have sexual themes. Banned. The public doesn't prefer to see promotions for alcohol, dancing, or Judaism. Banned. The majority doesn't want to see gay people holding hands. Banned. They don't want to see posters in front of theaters that show R rated movies. Banned.

This is exactly why the founders viewed majoritarianism as a form of tyranny.

Had Enough Indy? said...

You need a better dictionary.

Nicolas Martin said...

Your retorts are as weak as your reasoning.

Had Enough Indy? said...

No doubt...

johnnystir said...

The United States Supreme Court has time and time again upheld time, place, and manner restrictions on free speech.

It's the same reason why you have to apply for a permit to have a parade down Meridian Street or you can't put a billboard in your backyard.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas Martin, your retorts are simply lazy logical fallacies. The false equivalency between regulating outdoor digital advertising and displays of public affection is so absurd it doesn't warrant a response. Not to mention that there is a difference between commercial and political speech.

http://www.varnumlaw.com/blogs/western-michigan-federal-courts/regulation-requiring-spaced-out-digital-billboards-does-not-violate-first-a/

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