Criticism of San Jose's Plan to Add New Billboards to the City

San Jose banned new billboards in 1985, but a proposal making its way through the planning department would allow for a wave of new billboards in the city. One local columnist isn't buying it.

2 minute read

August 14, 2020, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

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John Miller writes a column to bring attention to a plan making its way through the planning department in San Jose, California that would rescind the city's 1985 ban on billboards, and allow for a wave of new billboards in the city.

Miller is obviously not a fan of the plan, and sarcasm drips from his words: 

The city Planning Department explains that by allowing new, large, digital billboards, four times as many 'old' existing billboards will be removed. Plus, they say new billboards will be 'vibrant quality signs.' Is that a deal you can’t refuse?

More scare quotes follow, in case the sarcasm wasn't obvious enough:

Planners think so, asserting billboards will “facilitate economic development” and are “an … aesthetic asset” that will be responsible for a “vibrant urban landscape.” City Councilman Raul Peralez and other City Council members agree, declaring billboards to be, of all things, “progressive.”

Miller also lists a series of arguments against new billboards, citing traffic safety and impact on property values while criticizing the San Jose City Council for endorsing the billboard industry's interests. According to Miller, the City Council is making a specious argument for the benefits of new billboards to the economic development of the city.

An environmental impact report for the new billboard plan is expected soon, according to Miller. For news coverage of San Jose's new billboard plan, see an article by Maggie Angst, published on July 10, 2020.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 in The Mercury News

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