[Durham INC] letters opposing billboard industry's attempt to overturn Durham's ban on electronic billboards
bwatu at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 16 06:25:33 EST 2009
Below are Herald-Sun letters opposing the billboard industry's attempt to overturn Durham's ban on electronic billboards.
These letters come from across the community, from many different neighborhoods. Not one letter has been published supporting the billboard industry.
all the very best,
Letter: Electronic billboards bad ads for Durham
Herald-Sun, 5 Jan 2009
Durham is a city of distinctive neighborhoods. I have the good fortune to live in one, Morehead Hill, a charming suburb established at the beginning of the last century.
Unhappily, if lobbyists for the billboard industry are successful, motorists coming off the Durham Freeway to Morehead Hill will be greeted by the considerably less charming sight of enormous, electronic signs, looming over the highway, garishly lit and impossible to ignore.
If the signs were merely tacky and gross it would be bad enough, but the most serious problem with the billboards is not aesthetic. The very quality that makes them desirable as advertising -- people can't avoid looking at them -- makes them dangerous. The captive audience consists of motorists driving down busy freeways who would be well-advised to keep their eyes on the road. As if to guarantee distractions, the flashing messages change every few seconds.
The billboards are also unhealthy for the environment. The conservationist group Scenic America estimates that just one sign has a "carbon footprint" equivalent to 13 houses.
The costs of electronic signs will be borne locally. As for benefits, the company promoting the billboards is based, not in the Triangle or even in North Carolina, but in Georgia. Many people have worked hard to improve Durham's image. Highway billboards would be a bad advertisement for Durham.
Letter: Dangerous idea
Herald-Sun, 28 Dec 2008
The Durham Freeway is dangerous enough already without added distractions. The proposal to install electronic billboards to the freeway is the worst idea yet and will only add to the mounting car accidents we now experience. We need fewer advertisements, not more.
Letter: No to billboards
Herald-Sun, 14 Jan 2009
It is time for our elected officials to speak up and do what we've elected them to do: Represent the citizens who are saying loudly and clearly, "No electronic billboards."
Your recent articles exposing Fairway Advertising's efforts to curry support for electronic billboards among local officials and civic leaders suggest some reasons for their silence. You have reported Fairway has made financial contributions to local elected officials, in-kind contributions to Downtown Durham Inc, and contacted city and county staff to solicit their support for electronic billboards.
The silence of those who have received contributions from Fairway Advertising is deafening. Their constituents are waiting to hear from them. You have printed many letters from Durham citizens opposed to electronic billboards because they are a dangerous distraction for drivers, sources of light pollution, have huge carbon footprints and would be hugely expensive for us to get rid of.
I share these concerns. I cannot recall a single letter supporting electronic billboards. Durham citizens seem to be speaking loudly and clearly: We do not want electronic billboards in Durham. Fairway Advertising and the billboard industry want to change our ordinances so they can clutter our highways, streets and neighborhoods with electronic billboards. If you oppose electronic billboards, write the City Council, country commissioners and Mayor Bill Bell and encourage them to put an end to Fairway's efforts.
Betty M. Greene
Lettter: This isn't Vegas
Herald-Sun, 24 Dec 2008
Electronic billboards? Who needs this? Not Durham, the "foodiest" city in the country, according to Bon Appetit. The best place to live and work, say several surveys -- a wonderful cultural crystal palace, the largest performing arts center filled with patrons. So we now are considering looking and acting like Las Vegas?
Please say no!
Letter: Durham can't afford electronic billboards
Herald-Sun, 23 Dec 2008
I oppose Fairway Advertising' s efforts to amend Durham's ordinances to allow it to erect electronic billboards. In Sunday's Herald-Sun, John Schelp and Larry Holt reported distressing facts about the carbon footprint of Fairway's proposed 25 electronic billboards, which will be equivalent to a new 325-unit housing development.
Fairway's proposal that we amend ordinances so they can build electronic billboards flies in the face of the efforts of many Durham residents and organizations working to make Durham a greener, sustainable carbon-neutral community.
Equally distressing, allowing electronic billboards now will make them much more expensive to get rid of down the road. Schelp's article states that the Highway Beautification Act requires cash compensation for the value of the structure plus lost revenue. Fairway's article estimates the value of the "donated" non-profit advertising at "millions of dollars." By extension, the value of the other six ads they would run on their billboards would be six times "millions of dollars."
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that for their "donation," Fairway is guaranteeing the future of these billboards. In order to take one down, Durham taxpayers would be obligated to compensate Fairway for the cost of the billboard plus the six- or seven-times millions of dollars of lost revenues.
That's a pretty good return on a donation for Fairway.
Durham gets a light- and carbon-polluting billboard we didn't ask for, putting advertising revenues in the pockets of an out-of-state company. Surely we can do better.
Letter: Electronic billboards will be dangerous
Herald-Sun, 24 Dec 2008
Driving safety is a great concern of mine, whether on back roads, city traffic, in parking lots or on highways. There are special problems to look out for in each of those locations, but one key element in driving safety is to be on the alert for unexpected movement or potential movement.
Are deer crossing the road at night? Is there a pack of cars approaching from behind, traveling 20 miles or more over the speed limit? Is someone moving out from the parking space directly behind mine as I attempt to back out? Is a bicyclist going to swerve from the sidewalk into the street? Paying attention to "background" visual components while driving is a major factor in avoiding accidents.
Electronic billboards would add visual disturbance to the driving landscape while making driving more hazardous. A non-electronic billboard may attract the driver's attention only when there are few driving distractions, but an electronic billboard (or a vehicle with changing electronic signage) is intended to be distracting. In the interest of safety, I urge Durham not to allow electronic signs.
Debbie Rubin Williams
Letter: No bright billboards
Herald-Sun, 28 Dec 2008
Old West Durham has everything that is good about a neighborhood. Everyone is welcome. There is a spirit of kindness and giving. Adults and kids walk together through the neighborhood, kids ride their bikes, and if you need help, there is always someone to lend a hand.
We all worked hard to make the neighborhood beautiful, we fixed up our houses, and planted trees and flowers. We share flowers from our garden and figs from our tree. There is a red-tailed hawk that lives our oak tree and an owl that sometimes visits at night.
It makes me so sad to hear that the billboard industry is trying to place bright flashing billboards near our Old West Durham neighborhood. This will destroy the peacefulness of our neighborhood at night. We have worked hard to make our neighborhood a good place for children and families. We don't need flashing lights in our bedrooms and the bedrooms of our children.
Question of the Week: What do you think about the proposed digital billboards?
Herald-Sun editorial page, 31 Dec 2008
The following are representative responses posted on www.heraldsun.com to the Sunday Perspectives Question of the Week: "What do you think about the proposed digital billboards?"
Say no to bright, digital billboards
This does not seem to be in the best interest for our community. I like Durham descriptives such as grit, diversity, city of neighborhoods. Do we really need to know what the hottest Vodka brand is or where the best car deal can be had while driving down our streets? I vote NO to propaganda and bright, digital billboards. - Long time resident and neighbor.
I enjoy the skyline I see now from the Freeway as I drive to various destinations. Our skyline is something Durham's history can be proud of, and electric billboards would be a tacky distraction. I already hate all the alcohol and fatty food ads I have to see on my way out of the neighborhood I live in as is.
If your not supposed to watch DVD players in your car, electronic billboards along a street don't sound like a hot idea either. It's meant to take your eyes off the road and the science says that these ads succeed in doing that. Therefore, these electronic billboards have been shown to decrease safety along the roads they "grace".
Durham should decline companies that want to put up new billboards in our community.
Seen in Greensboro
>From a friend...
Returning from Greensboro, NC to Durham yesterday along I-85 around 5:30PM there was this bright electronic billboard just outside of Greensboro which I had not seen before. It got my attention because it was extremely bright for that time of day. It was so bright and overpowering you could not read it. It was laughable because it was so useless. It over lit the area and it took a few seconds once I looked away for my eyes to adjust back to normal.
Further down the road in comparison, the old style billboards that have a fixed sign with lights shining up from the bottom was more readable and was better on the eyes for that time of day even though it added to the visual clutter along the road. You would think the billboard industry would know this but I assume the primary driver for them to go with the electronic LCD version is being able to flip different messages on a single billboard. I guess they did not realize that certain times of the day, these electronic versions would be useless because you cannot read them.
The light pollution from this one sign was extreme. Had there been more of these electronic versions along the road with one right after the other on both sides of the road, the light pollution would have been horrible, extremely distracting, irritating, and very blinding. You would be blinded for such long periods of time your eyes would never adjust back to normal so you can see the road. This major hazard and visual pollution should never be allowed.
Letter: Blinding billboards
Herald-Sun, 1 Jan 2009
Electronic lighting of billboards on highways will be absolutely blinding to people who have some night blindness, problems looking at certain kinds of oncoming headlights and confusing to anyone who has a shred of dyslexia. Anyone who remembers driving I-40 through Durham during major road construction would affirm that navigating the blaze of flashing bright lights was difficult and confusing. For me it was scary as could be.
We are already forced to look at too much advertising. It is not worth the sacrifice of anyone's life. The experts need to step up and say no to electronic advertising on highways because it is dangerous.
Letter: Bad ads for Durham
Herald-Sun, 3 Jan 2008
Let us consider this idea of electronic billboards. On the "con" side are the following:
1) They are bad for the environment with staggering amounts of carbon pollution, plus light pollution.
2) They are distracting at best and dangerous at worst for drivers.
3) They would provide revenue to yet another distant corporation while giving nothing in return (have we not had enough of such corporate greed?).
4) They would cost Durham greatly if we decide later that we want to remove them.
5) They are tasteless, garish and annoying.
On the "pro" side? I am at a loss to find one thing to recommend them.
We know this is a bad idea. Please do not change Durham's ordinance to permit electronic billboards here.
Letter: No billboard blight
Herald-Sun, 7 Jan 2009
I am a home owner on American Drive in Durham. North Carolina is where I was born; I have always been proud of the state's concern for roads and nature.
The last thing we need is to have billboards as a blight on the beautiful Duke Forest setting. The woods and trails and trees are reasons for buying and living in this lovely area.
Please don't bring in what other states are doing away with. Let's keep Durham a leader and not succumb to billboard lobbying.
Whatever needs to be done to prevent it, I will be there.
Letter: Send a message
Herald-Sun, 14 Jan 2009
Fairway Outdoor Advertising, the Georgia firm that wants to light up Durham with digital billboards, has given the mayor and each of the members of the Durham City Council substantial campaign contributions. In an effort to cinch the deal, Fairway also gave $28,000 in free advertising to the movers and shakers behind the prepared food tax that proved so popular with Durham voters. From the tenor of the recent letters to the editor, it seems that digital billboards are even less popular than the food tax. Fairway's lawyer sniffs at any suggestion of impropriety, denying any quid pro quo.
This is a rare opportunity for our politicians to prove that they cannot be bought, that powerful Georgia companies may supply the quid but our pols will never, never return the quo.
Letter: Lighted billboards 'tawdry visual litter'
Herald-Sun, 16 Jan 2009
Lit, flashing billboards should not be permitted in our community. Please urge our elected officials to vote against these dangerous nuisances. I have sent the following to the Durham City Council and the Board of County Commissioners, and hope others will also write.
"Please do not allow those awful lighted, flashing billboards in Durham City or County. Regular billboards are ugly enough; if you want to do something about billboards, figure out a way to rid us of them altogether. In addition to upping the uglification factor enormously, these new ones are a hazard to drivers. The human eye is designed to respond to sudden motion in the environment ... so it is impossible not to look. Anything that distracts drivers ... is inherently dangerous and should not be permitted. I know the first time I saw one (right outside of Richmond ...), I nearly wrecked with another driver who was also looking at the ... billboard.
"They are also unbelievably bright, and at night compound the night vision problems of older drivers. I don't even want to think about how horrible it would be to have one within sight of any human habitation or work place. If you want to see how fast they turn a highway into a tawdry stretch of visual litter, just take a ride to Charlotte. ... the result is not pretty."
Kate Dobbs Ariail
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