Billboard Owner Sues City of Madison, WI for Blocking Views with Bike Bridge


As Madison, Wisconsin has recently discovered, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

Beltline billboard

A billboard advertising company is suing the city of Madison for constructing a bike overpass bridge that has blocked its view from traffic, “contending the value of the sign and property had been ‘substantially devalued.’” Link to the article here.

Two points of note:
1. Had the billboard not been built, and the advertiser never had a chance to claim rights to public sight-lines, this lawsuit could have been avoided.
2. It’s interesting that nearby homeowners did not sue the advertiser when his billboard most likely reduced their property values!


In Cities Across Texas, Activists Battle Billboard Companies


Don Glendenning, president of Scenic Dallas, stands with volunteer Marc Shidid below one of Dallas' new digital billboards.

Don Glendenning, president of Scenic Dallas, stands with volunteer Marc Shidid below one of Dallas’ new digital billboards. (John Burnett/NPR)

Kudos to our affiliates in Texas, who are working hard to prevent the spread of visual pollution in their cities and along their highways.

“In Texas, 388 cities — including most large and medium-size cities — have ordinances prohibiting new billboards.”

Link to the NPR article here.

Show Us YOUR Scenic Philly!


Do you have a favorite building in Philadelphia? Know of a green oasis you want to share with the world? Maybe some spectacular public art, or a perfect view of the Schuykill?

Row houses on South Street.

Row houses on South Street.

We want to see YOUR Scenic Philly! is the place to post pictures of your favorite architecture, parks, neighborhoods, art, and views. If you’re on Instagram, please be sure to tag us in all your Philly pictures and follow us @myscenicphilly

This is your city–what do YOU love about it?

Scenic Summer Soirée Success!



Our Scenic Summer Soirée was a huge success! We have always believed that beauty is good for business, and we were delighted to have local entrepreneur and author Judy Wicks elaborate on this idea and read excerpts from her recent book “Good Morning, Beautiful Business.” Visit to learn more about her work!


Judy Wicks reads excerpts from her recent book “Good Morning, Beautiful Business.”

Thanks to all our attendees for coming out and supporting the effort to keep Philadelphia beautiful!

All our pictures from the Soirée can be viewed on our Facebook page. While you’re there, be sure to Like ScenicPhiladelphia so you can stay up to date on news, events, and more! If you have any photos from the event you would like to share, please tag us by typing “@ScenicPhiladelphia” as a comment on the picture.




People are profoundly impacted by the appearance of their surroundings. An attractive visual environment positively affects a city’s economic, cultural, and social development.


We believe that citizens are our best hope for improvement and that all residents, regardless of income, education or neighborhood should benefit from laws protecting their built environment.

Contact Us!

Our Office is located at 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 1605.  Call us at 215-731-1796 or send us an e-mail at


Billboard Update in Northern California: Third Hurdle Overcome, but Victory Not Yet Final

The northern California city of Albany – near Berkeley and San Francisco – was able to overturn a billboard ordinance the City Council had approved in March that would have allowed a digital billboard on a new maintenance building currently under construction. Scenic East Bay was able to advise them to work together and mount a successful grassroots campaign against the ordinance with help of Sierra Club and especially former City Council member Robert Cheasty.

image003Five members of the public spoke at the City Council meeting on July 21st, including one representative of the Sierra Club.  They argued how digital billboards would adversely affect enjoyment of the waterfront, traffic safety, property values, and wildlife.  Ultimately, four City Council members voted in favor of overturning ordinance.  One council member voted against overturning it.


To finalize the ordinance change, there will be a confirmatory vote, most likely at the September 2nd City Council meeting. Monitor this website for the meeting agenda, and visit for updates on the campaign.


Some Exciting Social Media News!

Scenic Philadelphia is finally on Instagram!  Follow us at @myscenicphilly today!


One of our first #MyScenicPhilly submissions!

The account is part of the new website we’re launching soon, My Scenic Philly.  You’ll be able to submit a photo (via our new Instagram!) or a short blurb that captures your favorite scenic part of Philadelphia, such as a park, neighborhood, public art, architecture, or hidden Philly jewel. Your MyScenicPhilly submission will appear on our map!

The Future of GPS? Choosing “Most Beautiful” Routes

If you prefer beautiful routes over short ones, GPS mapping algorithms are of little use. But Yahoo researchers have come up with an approach that could change that.

Beautiful cities

Last week, MIT Technology Review highlighted members of Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain who have developed an algorithm to measure the “beauty” of specific locations within cities and then choose a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it.  Let’s hope this enters all GPS devices soon!

Read the full article here.

Do You Live Near an Illegal Billboard?

City Council will soon pass new billboard laws, legalizing many billboards that the billboard industry identified as illegal in 1990 and Penn Dot identified as illegal in 2006.

Bill #130656   amending Philadelphia’s 1991 outdoor advertising laws and may include the legalization of all illegal billboards in the City.  To view the illegal billboards in your neighborhood please click on the link that corresponds to your Councilmanic District. Contact your Council person to voice your concern.

1st District, Councilman Mark Squilla                  215-686-3458

2nd District, Kenyatta Johnson                             215-686-3412, 3413

3rd District, Jannie Blackwell                                215-686-3418, 3419

4th District, Curtis Jones, Jr.                                 215-686-3416, 3417

5th District, Darrell L. Clarke                                215-686-3442, 3443, 2070

6th District, Bobby Hennon                                   215-686-3444, 3445

7th District, Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez             215-686-3448, 3449

8th District, Cindy Bass                                          215-686-3424, 3429

9th District, Marian B. Tasco                                 215-686-3454, 3455

10th District, Brian J. O’Neill                                 215-686-3422, 3423

The Prevalence of Harmful Content on Billboard Advertising

An L.A. study, conducted by Bryce C. Lowery, MS, MLA, and David C. Sloane, PhD, confirms what we have known or at least suspected – that billboard companies target the most vulnerable communities with ads for things like fast food and alcohol.

digital signs in chicago neighborhood IIIAccording to Sloane and Lowery, public health professionals and planners need to consider the ramifications of the harmful impacts of outdoor advertising.  It is likely, they believe, that outdoor advertising will increase in proliferation “given the rising economic value of outdoor advertising to developers and property owners, the new digital technologies that give advertisers the ability to continuously present new ads, and the belief among many public officials that outdoor advertising enlivens public spaces in a cosmopolitan city.”

Sloane and Lowery also found that the current reliance on land-use zoning as a determinant for the location of billboards can lead to an uneven distribution of harmful content.  This, they fear, puts the well-being of poorer, minority, and at-risk communities at a huge disadvantage.

To read Sloane and Lowery’s full study, click here.

Beauty Is Good for Business: 2014 Scenic America Conference

We are delighted to announce that videos and presentations from the annual Scenic America Conference are now available to watch for free on Scenic America’s website.  Scenic advocates from around the country gathered in Houston on April 11th for this year’s conference.  The theme of the event was: How Scenic Beauty Supports Economic Development, Livability and Tourism.

Click here to watch a brief preview of all the presentations.  You’ll only want to watch more!

Gerald HinesScenic Philadelphia especially enjoyed the talk given by Gerald Hines, Founder and Chairman of  Hines Organization, one of the largest real estate organizations in the world.  Gerald discussed How Scenic Beauty Supports Business.  He used Uptown Houston as an example of a premier mixed-use urban community that connects business with pleasure, energy with grace, and style with substance through projects such as greening the West Loop and Hidalgo Park and implementing a Pedestrian Improvement program.  Click here to watch the full presentation and download Gerald’s powerpoint slides here.

amy-hillierPhiladelphia’s very own Amy Hillier, Ph.D. (Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design; Secondary faculty appointment in the School of Social Policy & Practice) gave a presentation as well on the Public Health Impacts of Planning and Design. She highlighted the short-term and long-term health outcomes that can arise from poor sign control, such as:

- Driver distraction from digital signs leading to increases in car, bike and pedestrian accidents and an overall increase in city casualties/fatalities

- Visual assault from outdoor media leading to over-stimulation/decrease in psychosocial well-being, which contributes to increased risks of chronic disease

- Outdoors/green spaces made less appealing generates less use and lower levels of physical activity and can lead to increases in crime and risk of chronic disease

You can view Amy’s talk here and download her powerpoint slides here

Let There Be LESS Light: Digital Signage in Chicago

Photo from Chris Hall's article "ISA works with Chicago to overturn digital sign ban, Part II" on Digital Signage Today

Photo from Chris Hall’s article “ISA works with Chicago to overturn digital sign ban, Part II” on Digital Signage Today

Below is an interesting interview by a trade publication of David Hickey of the International Sign Association.  The interview gives some insight into how the ISA uses boilerplate language on regulations from city to city when advocating for digital on-premise signs.  They’re working hard to influence planners in particular…


ISA works with Chicago to overturn digital sign ban, Part I

ISA works with Chicago to overturn digital sign ban, Part II

The interview was spawned by a recent effort by ISA to overturn a moratorium on on-premise digital signs in Chicago, which is covered nicely in this report.

Anyone complaining about light pollution in Chicago, however, will find no friend in the Mayor’s office.