Sign Code, Part 3

At the sign code meeting on Wednesday, March 30, a committee member raised the issue of SB 411. He pointed out that Montana is one of only 3 states that does not have legislation like this. Assistant City Manager, Cheryl Patton, pointed out that "the planning boards and cities are fighting this" legislation.

What is SB411? This bill would allow local government to regulate, relocate, and remove off premise advertising (billboards). So, why would the cities oppose this grant of additional power?

Because SB411 also requires local government to compensate the advertisers and owners of the property for losses they incur as a result of such regulation, relocation, and removal of billboards. In other words, it would require the cities to bear the costs of the whims of their leaders, not private enterprise.

Let's apply this reasoning to our City's new sign code. Lets assume that there are 3,000 nonconforming signs in Great Falls. We'll assume 1/2 choose to buy the City's new grandfather permit for $300.00. The other 1/2 agree to pay to bring their signs into conformance at an average cost of $2,500.00. This would impose a cost of $4,200,000.00 on our community.

Whoa, wait a minute. You mean creating new sign codes will cost money? How will imposing $4.2 million in costs on the private sector "promote a positive economic and business climate?" Well, I'll tell you what. Let's impose the cost of this ordinance on those who create the cost, the City of Great Falls.

I'll bet if it became known that the City had to pay millions as a result of this sign code, the public furor pushing for the adoption of this code would die down.

Wait a minute. There's no public furor pushing for the adoption of this code. In fact, at the public hearing, comments ran approximately 3-1 against the code. I wonder what would happen to that number if the taxpayers also had to pay the costs associated with the aesthetic decisions of their elected leaders.

No wonder the cities are opposed to SB411.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From a Safety aspect many of the higher signs create a safer driving environment. As it is now motorists entering streets can see under the higher signs whereas if they are lowered they may not be able to. On this note the City would be much more effective woking diligently to trim trees up to give the motorists visability. Two areas that I can think of right now are the entrances/exits to the Westwood Mall - Staples, Big Bear, Corral West etc.-onto the bypass oposite the horse barns at the fairgonds. Those trees fully leaved obstruct the view of people exiting the Mall area. I know I was involved in an accident there and truely believe the young lady that I collided with that she could not see me coming westbound on the By-Pass. Unfortunate she recieved a citation and for a 17 year old driver this was not good.
The second place that need attention is the southbound lane of 6th Street SW. from Central Ave. West to the RR overpass. It amazes me when the leave are out and completely obscuring the 30 mph sign, how many officers sit on this section of road with radar to issue citations. Now before the leaves come out is when the City should make a concious effort to trim trees. Not wait until they are fully leaved ou. I believe rather than a sign ordinance, the City should determine a minimum height for tree branches along city streets. This would time well spent rather than trying "help" the business people of Great Falls with their advertising program.
Ben Ives