The Billboard Industry's War on Trees

Across the country, the billboard industry is fighting to prohibit tree planting on public spaces that might block their billboards.

"There is a strip of US 192 in Osceola, Florida, that people used to consider 'Tacky Town,' a drab stretch of road that was filled with junky tourist amusements and strip malls – a place with ditches lining the side of the road and no sidewalks. In the 1980s, as National Public Radio reported in a wonderful segment yesterday, the community decided to tax itself – to the tune of $29 million – to make the roadway safer and more attractive. It put in ten-foot sidewalks, bus shelters, and hundreds of trees and shrubs.

But the community's effort to reclaim its space and make it beautiful didn't count on one thing – the billboard industry. Clear Channel Outdoor, a major national purveyor of billboard space, complained that the trees planted on the public right-of-way were blocking the view of its billboards. Craig Swygert, the head of the Orlando division of the company, argued that the government was unfairly diminishing the value of Clear Channel's investments in billboards, and so the tree needed to come down. 'The billboards were there first ,' he told NPR."

Full Story: Who Owns the Public View?


Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $50.
$369 includes free shipping!