September 8, 1986
One of the first pieces of environmental legislation enacted by the Congress was the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, a law intended to rid the nation of the visual blight of billboards and other outdoor advertising cluttering its roadways. Except for some states and cities, which have acted to eliminate most outdoor advertising, the program has been a dismal failure. There are far more billboards littering U.S. highways than ever before. The 1965 act failed for a number of reasons.
March 3, 1987
Name one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington. Hint: It despoils the landscape. (It's not the mining lobby.) It managed to turn a federal program to control its excesses into a multi-million-dollar subsidy. (It has nothing to do with military hardware.) It's the outdoor advertising industry - the folks who have dotted America's landscape with thousands of unsightly billboards. The 1965 Highway Beautification Act, designed to limit billboard blight by compensating owners for billboard removal, is a failure.
July 23, 1986 |
Millions of tourists who pile into cars this summer will discover a landscape littered with billboards that spoil majestic views of farms, forests, plains, deserts and mountains. For years, billboard owners have been taking advantage of loopholes in the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which instead of curbing the growth of unattractive roadside signs, has caused their numbers to multiply. Before more scenic stretches of highway are ruined, we should revise the sections of the law that allow billboard owners to circumvent Congress's original intent.
February 21, 2013 |
PHILLY HAS FAILED to follow federal, state and city laws for billboards, a report released Wednesday says. The report by Scenic Philadelphia states that many illegal billboards along federally funded highways in the city, listed in a 2006 Department of Transportation inventory, are still there. The report also cites additional violations. It warns that the state risks losing 10 percent of its federal highway funding as a result. Authored by University of Pennsylvania master's-degree candidate Sarah Richards, who obtained a grant for the study, the report focuses on 183 billboard structures, sporting 331 sign faces, along Interstate 95, the Vine Expressway and the Schuylkill Expressway.
April 22, 1988 |
No new billboards will clutter the Vine Street corridor, and 27 existing signs will be removed under legislation passed by City Council yesterday. After almost four months of controversy, Council approved with little debate a ban on new billboards in the area bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers and Spring Garden and Race streets. The legislation also requires that 27 of the 94 existing signs be removed within five years. The remaining signs are not affected by the law, because they lie within 660 feet of Vine Street, a federally funded roadway, and thus are protected by the federal Highway Beautification Act. That could change if Congress closes a loophole protecting signs nearest to federal highways, said Richard Lombardo, project planning chief of the Philadelphia Planning Commission.
May 28, 1986 |
Imagine a federal "Clean Water Act" that would allow most of our nation's rivers to become as polluted as the dirtiest. Imagine further that the law would allow polluters to dump their wastes until Uncle Sam paid them to stop. Finally, imagine that sufficient funds for this purpose are never allocated, so year after year the pollution worsens. Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but this is how the law that was supposed to clean up billboard pollution along America's highways now works. The federal Highway Beautification Act, passed during Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to clean up our countryside, is a classic failure - gutted by the industry it was meant to regulate.
April 11, 1988 |
Proponents of the Vine Street billboard ban have tried mightily to frame the sign control debate in stark but unrealistic terms: the public good versus the selfish interests of a particular industry. Peter Wiley, executive director of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, has described the proposed ban as "a good-government and motherhood-and-apple-pie issue. " However, as with most complex public policy debates reduced to simple terms, inaccuracies and misconceptions abound.
September 29, 1986
Twenty-one years ago, Americans resolved that they'd much rather look at purple mountains' majesty above the fruited plains than at billboards. That's why, with Lady Bird Johnson spurring everyone on, Congress approved the 1965 Highway Beautification Act. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked. The billboard lobbyists (who doesn't have a lobby?) managed to loop the law with enough holes for them to drive big signs through. Lots of them. Today six billboards go up for every one torn down, and every one torn down costs the taxpayers as much as $10,000, under the generous terms of the law, to "compensate" billboard owners for complying with the law. So far 117,000 billboards have been torn down, costing the taxpayers $214 million in compensation, which billboard owners promptly spent erecting an estimated 300,000 bigger billboards in new roadside locations.
March 24, 1988 |
In January, City Councilman James J. Tayoun introduced a bill that would have saved 27 of the 94 billboards along the Vine Street Expressway. Yesterday, Tayoun reluctantly voted in favor of a bill supported by Councilman David Cohen and the Goode administration that would knock down those 27 signs and ban erection of any new signs in the area bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers and Spring Garden and Race streets. If Tayoun's antics had his colleagues up in the air, he didn't seem to notice.
July 4, 1991
Congress banned billboards from the nation's capital years ago, but the billboard industry still finds its way around Capitol Hill just fine, doling out campaign contributions, providing speech honoraria for various honorables. So it came as little surprise when the industry succeeded the other week in fending off a proposal that would make it easier to curb the proliferation of signs on the nation's highways. The proposal went down to defeat in the Senate by a vote of 60-39. (It fared better among senators from Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Delaware, with only Philadelphia's Arlen Specter voting with the billboard industry.