Is Bright Right or Blight?

A proposal to create a new outdoor advertising district in San Francisco has some locals anticipating a retail revival, while others dread the possible billboard blight.

1 minute read

October 16, 2009, 10:00 AM PDT

By Nate Berg

"The 'Mid-Market Special Sign District' is the brainchild of a property owner who touts the idea that flashing light will spark the renaissance of an area that has been grim and bleak for decades, most every hint of revival quickly going dark. A committee will map precisely where signs can be placed; soon after that, boosters promise, long-boarded-up structures will sprout galleries and cafes.

The leading critic is San Francisco Beautiful - a civic organization that in 2002 authored its own initiative, a citywide ban on new general-advertising billboards. As you might guess, the nonprofit isn't thrilled by Prop. D's attempt to open a door nailed shut: The new wattage visible from afar and the possible precedent for other neighborhoods make the proposition nothing less than a 'neutron bomb,' SFB's president told The Chronicle's John Coté."

The ballot measure has elicited a variety of angry responses from citizens and impassioned pleas from proponents. According to urban design critic John King, both sides have a point.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 in San Francisco Chronicle

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