Above the Law Report Sarah Richards – 2/18/13

Scenic Philadelphia Press Release

PHILADELPHIA, February 20, 2013    Above the Law and Under the Radar: The Philadelphia Billboard Industry’s Failure to Comply with Local, State, and Federal Laws identifies over 100 billboards located along Philadelphia’s federal aid highways in violation of the Highway Beautification Act (HBA).  This widespread failure to comply with the HBA is expected to trigger a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) audit and possible penalties which could cost the City millions of dollars in lost federal-aid highway funding unless the billboard structures and sign faces are brought into compliance.

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Report: City flouts highway billboard regulations

ANGELO FICHERA, Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 9:13 PM

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 I-95, the Vine Expressway and the Schuylkill Expressway. The report says that only 18 percent of the billboards in the study complied with all regulations and had valid permits.

Click Here to read the article

Inga Saffron: Digital Signs – 2/8/13

Philadelphia Inquirer Article
You might think television sets can’t get any bigger than they already are, yet last week, Philadelphia came close to installing one of the world’s largest: a seven-story-high digital screen on the south facade of the Electric Factory building at Seventh and Callowhill Streets. Instead of broadcasting your favorite shows, this jumbo tube would have beamed advertisements across the city 24 hours a day.
Click here to read more

Philadelphia’s public spaces for sale by owner? – 1/28/13

Legal Intelligencer Article
Stephanie Kindt – Scenic Philadelphia Staff Attorney
and Frances Ryan – Scenic Philadelphia

Over the past six months, Philadelphia City Council has proposed a myriad of bills that would place advertisements in our public spaces, e.g. on school buses, on newsstands, entire sides of buildings facing historic districts, on municipal property citywide, even legalizing the small posters plaguing our neighborhoods (“We buy ugly houses!”). Several of the proposed bills relate to digital signage (electronically changing digital message boards utilizing LED technology).

Click Here to read more

Scenic Philadelphia looks beyond billboards – 9/10/12

PlanPhilly Article

For the last three years, Mary Tracy has been wearing two hats, one as president of Scenic America and one as executive director of Philadelphia-based SCRUB, the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight. Besides launching her on a loop-de-loop schedule of Amtrak rides back and forth to Washington, D.C. the gig has heightened her already razor-sharp sense of mission.

Click here to read more.

Billboard City: Part Two – 6/9/12

Metropolis Report

Steen Outdoor Advertising was able to get an over-the-counter L&I permit to convert a billboard outside Peter Kendierski’s loft because Philadelphia’s current zoning code, which strictly regulating neon lights and marquees, actually predates the invention of digital displays. Other companies have rushed to convert signs in the past year, hoping to slip permitting past neighbor’sgroups while the approval process is still as easy as waiting in line at L&I.

Click here to read more.

Billboard City: Part One – 6/9/12

Metropolis Report

When Peter Kendierski started renting a loft apartment at 310 N. 11th Street, he was well aware that his new living room’s stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline would be partially obscured by an unfortunately placed billboard on nearby Vine Street. It would be a hard fact to ignore; the billboard is massive.

Click here to read more

Billboard news from Scenic Philadelphia- 1/26/12

January 26, 2012

Billboard news from Scenic Philadelphia

PlanPhilly

Dear Scenic Philadelphia Members and Friends,

Miraculously no one was hurt, but on January 13th, New Yorkers learned that 50 tons of steel towering over a Brooklyn neighborhood was a disaster waiting to happen.Watch this clip.

Meanwhile, last week, here in Philadelphia, the ZBA granted a variance to Clear Channel Outdoor allowing them to rebuild a non-conforming billboard located next to a row of townhouses and to increase the height to 9 stories. Actions prohibited under the Philadelphia zoning law.

The 1530 S. Front Street billboard existed before stricter sign control laws were enacted in 1991 and is allowed to remain as it is but cannot be altered because:

It is within 500 feet of another billboard
It is within 300 feet of a residences
It already exceeds the 25 ft height requirement

Scenic Philadelphia will recruit volunteer attorneys to represent the neighbors in appealing this decision as we have done over the past 20 years. The Commonweath Court of Pennsylvania has published many of our court victories dismissing the ZBA ‘s variances allowing billboards in protected areas.

 

Nutter Vetoes Controversial Wall Wrap Bill

December 15, 2011

Nutter Vetoes Controversial Wall Wrap Bill

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Mayor Michael Nutter has vetoed a controversial zoning bill that allowed large wall wrap advertising on buildings between Spring Garden, Willow, 6th and 7th streets.

The bill, recently approved by city council and introduced by outgoing First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, would have allowed such a sign to be hung on The Electric Factory.

DiCicco did not call for a vote to override the veto. After the council session, he said the vote would have been close, and he also did not want to pressure any council colleagues who don’t like the idea to go along because it was his last council session. “I didn’t feel it was appropriate,” he said.

 

Nutter vetoes are called for

December 14, 2011

Nutter vetoes are called for

By Doron Taussig
Daily News

An IOM editorial in the Daily News:

TOMORROW, City Council is expected to make history by voting to approve a new simplified zoning code. The code hasn’t been updated for 50 years, so this is a momentus day that could put the city on track for more coherent and streamlined dealings over what gets built and where.

It’s been a long and winding road, but Council has shown a commitment to do the right thing.

So why did it take two steps back by approving a spot-zoning change that is not only inadvisable, but, according to the City Solictor’s Office, illegal?

The bill, sponsored by Frank DiCicco, would allow a building on 7th Street near Callowhill to be wrapped with a giant ad. Right before the vote, City Solicitor Shelley Smith wrote a six-page letter detailing legal issues with the bill, and said that allowing the ad could jeopardize Federal Highway Administration funding.

 

“Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity”

December 13, 2011
“Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity”

By Sabrine Tribié

PlanPhilly

SCRUB, the Public Voice for Public Space recently released a ground breaking study entitled “Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity“. The paper was written by urban planner Jonathan Snyder with the support of a grant from the Samuel S. Fels Fund. Snyder received a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a concentration in Community and Economic Development.

Snyder’s research focused on whether economic prosperity is best served by strict sign control laws. He combined US Census, local home price and zoning code data with geographic information system (GIS) and statistical analysis tools in order to address three key questions: What impact do billboards have on real estate prices in the City of Philadelphia? What impact do billboards have on home value within census tracts in the City of Philadelphia? What impact do billboard regulations have on median income, poverty rates and vacancy rates in different cities in the United States? No other known studies examine how billboards affect their surrounding area, or explore the relationship between billboard controls and the economic condition of U.S. cities.

Click here to read the report

 

DiCicco Drawing Attention by Spot Zoning that Favors Developers

November 18, 2011

DiCicco Drawing Attention by Spot Zoning that Favors Developers

By Valerie Russ
Daily News

COUNCILMAN Frank DiCicco may be on his way out of office this year, but he’s not leaving quietly.

DiCicco, who decided not to run for a fifth term representing the 1st Council District, has pushed numerous measures in his last months in office favoring developments that have generated concern from some observers.

They are questioning whether he’s trying to make friends and connections with developers as he prepares for a career as a political consultant and lobbyist after leaving Council.

“I’m just absolutely amazed at what he’s doing,” said lawyer Samuel C. Stretton, who is representing the anti-blight organization SCRUB in a fight against a billboard for which DiCicco has pushed.

 

Phila. Billboard Agreement Undermines Residents’ Rights

October 25, 2011

Phila. Billboard Agreement Undermines Residents’ Rights

By Charles C. Sweedler

The Legal Intelligencer

Editor’s note: The author represents the plaintiffs in McConville v. City of Philadelphia.

A well-placed billboard can quickly earn back the cost of construction and land acquisition, and then become a reliable cash cow. Consequently, as City Council has noted in legislative findings, “there exist throughout every area of the City numerous illegally erected commercial outdoor advertising signs that negatively impact upon the general welfare of those neighborhoods.” (See Phila. Code § 9-602(e).)

Philadelphia law grants taxpayers the right to appear before the Zoning Board of Adjustment. (See Philadelphia Code § 14-1805; and the Commonwealth Court’s 1999 opinion in Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight v. Zoning Board of Adjustment.)

A taxpayer who entered his or her appearance before the ZBA may appeal an adverse ZBA decision to state court and, of course, defend an appeal of a favorable ZBA decision. (See the 2010 Commonwealth Court opinion in Callowhill Center Associates LLC v. Zoning Board of Adjustment.) Even if he or she did not appear before the ZBA, a taxpayer may appeal the decision to state court if he or she is “aggrieved,” generally because of proximity to the illegal billboard. (See 53 P.S. 13131.1.)

 

SCRUB: How trees make way for billboards

October 13, 2011

SCRUB: How trees make way for billboards

PlanPhilly

By Frances V. Ryan and Sabrine Tribié

This summer, SCRUB was contacted by a distraught Philadelphian who observed the cutting of a large swath of greenery along the south side of the Vine Street Expressway between 23rd street and the Schuylkill River. It is an area that many Philadelphians can see from their high rises near the Art Museum and it is busy with traffic as cars head to the nearby interchange of interstates 76 & 676. Trees and bushes were completely removed, some trees were harshly “topped”. Our concerned citizen made inquiries and confirmed what was painfully obvious… the cutting was done in order to enhance the visibility of a huge billboard soaring above the roadway.

The cutting of trees to clear a view of billboards is becoming a hot button issue. Outdoor advertising companies want to protect their business as well as the businesses being advertised. Nearby residents want to protect the trees, their view and the environment. Legislative and legal battles have erupted in many states and municipalities. As the value of trees becomes more evident, more conflict is guaranteed.

 

Those Stinkin Bandit Signs

September 9, 2011

Those Stinkin Bandit Signs

By J.R. King

Philly.com

On almost every street corner of my “up and coming” South Philly neighborhood, local “entrepreneurs” – the kind who buy houses for cash or run Medicare scams – have decided that the best way to advertise is to post ugly and illegal signs on every utility pole and street sign in sight.

I don’t know who started this advertising arms race. Maybe it was one of the companies who will buy my house for cash. Maybe it was the person who wants to commit insurance fraud by buying diabetic test strips (presumably to sell them on some sort of black market).

I do know that the city never enforces the law that makes each sign a $75 offense. Worse, seeing the Free Advertising Pioneer get away with it caused a wave of competitors to litter our corner of the world with these so-called bandit signs.

“Bandit signs stigmatize neighborhoods,” says Mary Tracy, executive director of the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight (SCRUB). “What’s worse, when laws are not enforced, it sends a message to residents and the renegade sign companies blighting their neighborhoods that the city doesn’t care about quality of life.”

 

Marc Gobe speaks about emotional branding cities and advertising

August 18, 2011

Marc Gobe speaks about emotional branding cities and advertising

By Frances V. Ryan

PlanPhilly

Earlier this summer, nearly 800 business leaders from 19 countries attended the Sustainable Brands Conference in Monterey, California. The global sustainable brands community is made up of sustainability, brand, and design professionals from global companies, socially responsible start-ups, investors, NGOs and government officials as well as service and solutions providers. The annual conference has become the locus for individuals and companies around the world that are committed to leveraging sustainable innovation as a driver of business and brand value.

One of the prominent speakers at the conference was Marc Gobé. Gobé co-founded Desgrippes Gobé, one of the world’s top five global branding firms when the company was sold in 2008. Gobé is considered a pioneer in combining the disciplines of brand strategy, human factor research, product and graphic design and architecture to emotionally engage consumers along different points of the brand experience.

His client representation has included Coca-Cola, Air France, AOL, Estée Lauder, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Hy-Vee, Samsung and others. In 2008 Gobé created Emotional Branding LLC, an experimental think tank, as both a branding best practice standard and visionary branding philosophy. He believes that his clients are best served by fostering their brand’s emotional relationship with those consumers who care about their impact on the world. As an advertising professional, Gobé is concerned about the impact of outdoor advertising on brands.

 

Waterfront advocacy group says three billboard proposals run counter to the long-term ricerfront goals

August 11, 2011

Waterfront advocacy group says three billboard proposals run counter to the long-term ricerfront goals

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Members of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group say that three billboard proposals along the waterfront are both inconsistent with the city’s long-range vision for the waterfront and in violation of a waterfront zoning overlay.

Two of the projects are in Pennsport.

Riverview Development Corp. hopes to wrap a long-abandoned building – one which has no windows and looks rather bombed out – at 1100 S. Columbus boulevard and place three billboards on it. The building is owned by developer Bart Blatstein.

City Council has already passed a zoning bill legalizing a conventional Pennsport billboard advertising Club Risque and a suburban body shop that the Department of Licenses & Inspection ruled should come down. The bill, passed by City Council on June 16 but awaiting Mayor Michael Nutter’s signature, would also allow the billboard to be digital.

 

Scenic Philadelphia Facilitates Summer Academic Program for High School Students

August 3, 2011

Scenic Philadelphia Facilitates Summer Academic Program for High School Students

By Willa Granger

PlanPhilly

This past July, SCRUB, the Public Voice for Public Space, partnered with Philadelphia Futures to create a three-week summer academic program for local high school students. Philadelphia Futures is a city-wide college success program that seeks to prepare low-income students for college. Through personalized college guidance, financial programs, and supplemental academic courses, Philadelphia Futures has helped 98% of its student body enroll in college. The intensive class, which culminated in a final research paper and PowerPoint competition, was taught by Sam Quinney, a Villanova grad who began his career in education through Teach for America.

dscn0864

 

Changing Skyline: Warehouse-size billboard eyed for Philadelphia site near Delaware River

July 22, 2011

Changing Skyline: Warehouse-size billboard eyed for Philadelphia site near Delaware River

By Inga Saffron
Philly.com

It’s as much a Philadelphia landmark as the statue of William Penn on City Hall, though hardly something that aspires to be an emblem of greatness. Is there anyone who has traveled the south Delaware waterfront and not marveled at the four-story concrete skeleton that lurks behind the RiverView shopping center on Columbus Boulevard, its naked columns flouting both gravity and civic decency?

That ruin, which looks as if it had been airlifted in from Kabul, was purchased more than 20 years ago by Bart Blatstein, who was a run-of-the-mill strip-mall developer before graduating to finer things in Northern Liberties. Blatstein unloaded the RiverView in 2003 – as part of a $75 million deal – but held onto its concrete companion in the hope of making a killing when a casino opened on the South Philadelphia waterfront.

 

Opponents Line Up Against Waterfront Billboard

July 14, 2011

Opponents Line Up Against Waterfront Billboard

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

A zoning hearing to place three flatwall billboards on a vacant property along Columbus Boulevard was put off so the developer could continue negotiations with SCRUB, the blight advocacy group, and concerned neighborhood groups.

The developer, Riverview Development Corp., is seeking the variance for 1100 S. Columbus Blvd. Though it won the support of the Pennsport Civic Association, an array of neighborhood activists showed up at a hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustment to voice their concerns.

Among them was Amy Rivera, a lawyer representing the Queen Village Neighbors Association, who said that residents of that neighborhood would be able to see the billboard and that it caused “massive visual clutter.”

 

Paris Decreases Visual Pollution

June 28, 2011

Paris Decreases Visual Pollution

By Willa Grange  Civic House Intern-University of Pennsylvania

PlanPhilly

This past June, Paris City Council passed a new law restricting outdoor advertising.

The decision, which will likely put a dent in the sales of local advertising companies, will reduce current display space by 30%, limiting signage to a mere 8 square meters (86 square feet) as opposed to the much larger 12 square meters (129 square feet). Moreover, the new regulations stipulate that signs must be at least 25 meters (82 feet) apart and 50 meters (164 feet) away from any school location.

Of the current 2,300 outdoor panels, all of which are shared between three advertising companies-JCDecaux, ClearChannel, and CBS Outdoor-roughly 1,400 billboards will be taken down. As Mairie de Paris official Danièle Pourtaud commented in a recent article for Le Figaro, “This ruling is not anti-advertising, but responds to people’s wishes that advertising should be less intrusive.” Moreover, the restriction will be confined only to the city center.

 

Korean Contingent Visits the Scenic Philadelphia Foundation

Posted June 22, 2011

Korean Contingent Visits the Scenic Philadelphia Foundation

By Willa Granger

PlanPhilly

This past June the Scenic Philadelphia, the Public Voice for Public Space, recently hosted a group of representatives of the Gyeonggi Province (South Korea) to discuss Scenic Philadelphia’s mission and its impact on shared space. Guests included members of the Gyeonggi government’s New City Development Division, Land Development Planning Division, and several other departments as well as representatives of the advertising industry. The group, which discovered Scenic Philadelphia through its website, was in the process of conducting a national tour of America, stopping in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. Their stop in Philadelphia was planned solely to visit the Scenic Philadelphia. The visit represented another step forward in the growing international dialogue about public space and outdoor advertising.

 

Planning Commission to City Council: Don’t Allow Condemned I-95 Billboards to Relocate Near Houses

Posted June 15, 2011

Planning Commission to City Council: Don’t Allow Condemned I-95 Billboards to Relocate Near Houses

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Planning commissioners say they don’t oppose a bill that would allow owners of billboards condemned to make way for the expansion of I-95 to relocate them without going through the usual permitting process. But they have a condition.

As written, Zoning Bill 100678 would allow any billboard that is currently closer to a home than code requires to retain that distance. So if a sign is now 100 feet from a residence, its new location is legal as long as the billboard is not closer than 100 feet from any residential structure.

Commissioners said Tuesday that they want City Council to amend the bill so that any relocated billboard must meet the code requirement to be no closer than 300 feet from a residentially zoned property, regardless of how close the billboard’s original location was.

Council is expected to vote on the legislation, which has passed out of Rules Committee, on Thursday.

 

Scenic Philadelphia Available to Give Signage Workshops

Posted March 22, 2011

Scenic Philadelphia Available to Give Signage Workshops

By SCRUB

PlanPhilly

Recently, Scenic Philadelphia, the Public Voice for Public Space presented a workshop on legal and attractive accessory signage for business owners in Lower Moyamensing. Scenic Phialdelphia was joined by representatives of the Community Design Collaborative, the City Commerce Department, the Department of Licenses and Inspections, and Councilman Frank DiCicco.

Scenic Philadelphia distributed a specially prepared version of its Accessory Signage Handbook, providing information tailored to business owners in Lower Moyamensing.

Scenic Philadelphia was honored by the invitation from the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association to make this presentation, and hopes to have the opportunity to help communities throughout the city with similar resources and events. If your community is interested in Scenic Philadelphia’s help preparing resources to inform area business owners in making decisions about their signage, please contact us.

 

McConville et al v City of Philadelphia

Posted February 4, 2011

McConville et al v City of Philadelphia

By SCRUB

PlanPhilly

A Philadelphia business owner arrived to work one morning to find a billboard had crashed against the side and roof of her building, causing extensive damage. When the sign company ignored the law and began to replace the nonconforming billboard structure, an inspector from the city’s enforcement agency issued a stop order.

But, according to the City’s Law Department, the business owner had no basis to challenge the rebuilding of the billboard because of a Settlement Agreement signed by a former City Solicitor and members of certain billboard companies. The agreement purports to “legalize” certain signs and protect them from adhering to the city’s zoning laws.

The property owner came to SCRUB for help and we recruited Attorney Charles Sweedler. Two plaintiffs are involved but the case will impact hundreds of illegal billboards and 9 million dollars in lost license fees, as well as potential fines and penalties. The City has had the case removed to Federal court, and now seeks to have it dismissed for lack of Federal standing. We expect to know whether the plaintiffs will be able to successfully remand to state court this coming Monday.

Philadelphia is not the only city where the attorneys for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and multi-national billboard companies have forged questionable agreements with Law Departments. A judge revoked a similar agreement in Los Angeles calling it “poison”.

 

Illuminating the Issue- A New Study on Energy Use of Digital Signs

Posted December 22, 2010

Illuminating the Issue- A New Study on Energy Use of Digital Signs

By Mary Tracy

PlanPhilly

As digital signage continues to proliferate around the country, a new report, Illuminating the Issues, examines the technical, environmental, economic and regulatory issues surrounding this emerging technology.

Although much attention has been paid to the driver safety impacts, and aesthetics, until now there has been relatively little research regarding the environmental and energy-consumption issues raised by this new technology.

Mayor Nutter wants to make Philadelphia “the greenest city in America” and this report may help policymakers question whether expanding the use of LED signage will push the city farther from this goal when one digital sign will require as much energy as 30 average homes or 25traditional billboards.

The paper was authored by Gregory Young, LEED AP, an architectural designer and urban planner active in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Young’s research was supported by a generous grant from the Samuel F. Fels Fund, and performed in collaboration with SCRUB: the Public Voice for Public Space.

Do Digital Billboards Waste Energy?

Posted Dec 20, 2010

Do Digital Billboards Waste Energy?

By Elisabeth Rosenthal
The New York Times

Last spring, the paper’s Driven to Distraction series explored the potential risks of digital billboards, which critics sometimes refer to as “TV on a stick.” Some cities and states are debating whether to prohibit or regulate this new form of advertising for fear that it can distract drivers and raise the rate of accidents.

A new study concludes that there are environmental reasons to avoid digital billboards as well. Digital billboards, which are made of LED lights, consume lots of energy and are made of components that will turn into e-waste once the billboard’s life has ended.

But wait, you ask, isn’t LED lighting quite energy-efficient? True, notes the report’s author, Gregory Young, a Philadelphia-based architectural designer and urban planner. But traditional billboards are lit by only two or three lamps, albeit inefficient ones, and only at night. By contrast, digital billboards have hundreds if not thousands of LEDs, which are illuminated day and night. And LEDs function poorly at high temperatures, so the signs need a cooling system.

In a year, a digital billboard can consume up to 30 times the energy that an average American home uses, Mr. Young finds.

 

DiCicco nixes electronic sign for Old City hotel

December 16, 2010

DiCicco nixes electronic sign for Old City hotel

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

The Old City Civic Association and an anti-blight advocacy group won a victory in City Council Thursday, when Councilman Frank DiCicco amended a bill designed to allow construction of a hotel at 4th and Race streets.

The initial bill would have permitted developer Bob Ambrosi, of Arc Properties, to put a large electronic sign on the proposed hotel at 401 Race St. facing the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Ambrosi had argued that the sign was crucial to market the 124-room hotel and accompanying entertainment center to motorists and wouldn’t have been visible by residents and pedestrians in Old City.

But his attorney, Ronald Patterson, conceded at the Council session that “we are unable to prove” that fact and Ambrosi was going along with the amendment.

Both the anti-blight group SCRUB and the local chapter of the AAA were against the sign, with the AAA arguing that it would cause a dangerous distraction to drivers on the bridge.

 

Public Parks in Peril

Posted Spring 2010

Public Parks in Peril: Cities Selling Land to Help Balance Budgets

By Stacey Graham
The Philadelphia Lawyer

As municipal budget deficits swell, elected officials contemplate liquidating public parkland as a means to balance their budgets. After all, parks are tax exempt and, in general, are maintained by taxpayer dollars, thus contributing on some level to budget shortfalls. Many state and local government officials genuinely believe that giving up parkland is in taxpayers’ best interest.

In today’s tough economy, conveying parkland to private developers rather than enacting broad tax hikes appears to be the lesser of two evils for balancing the budget. Shortterm gains may be realized from such transfer of parkland and long-term tax revenue may be generated due to a change in land use. Certainly the idea grows in popularity if politicians can convince taxpayers that any alternative use of parkland is only temporary – a lease rather than a sale – or that the park will be lost only as a tradeoff to preserve or create jobs.

 

Power-slurping Signs

 

Posted on Mar 21, 2011

Power-slurping signs: Those digital billboards popping up along the region’s highways are attention grabbers – and energy guzzlers

By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer Staff Writer

Every eight seconds, the message changed.

Drivers whizzing by on I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia might have seen an ad for American Idol, which then flashed to ones for a Sixers game, a Target sale, 95.7 Ben-FM, and a Lenovo laptop – “so fast it’s obscene!”

But Greg Young wasn’t tempted by any of this. Standing in front of the sign and frowning slightly, he was thinking about electricity and how many watts were coursing through the wires of this new gizmo.

The sign was a digital billboard, a new breed of outdoor advertising that is growing in both the region and the nation.

 

Scenic Philadelphia Fights the City’s Want of Billboards

Posted Jun 17, 2010

Scenic Philadelphia Fights the City’s Want of Billboards

By Randy LoBasso

Everyone needs a cause, including those against…billboards. They’re called Scenic Philadelphia and they’re suing the city of Philadelphia for a deal the city made with four billboard companies in 2006.
Philly.com:

The city agreement, with CBS Outdoor, Steen, Clear Channel and Keystone, takes away legal rights from residents and community groups who want to get rid of billboards, the suit says.

The suit seeks to void the agreement and require that billboard companies comply with existing regulations.

 

Changing Skyline: Putting Pizzazz into Market East

 

By Inga Saffron

What influences the public’s perception of Market East more: The mobs of rampaging teens who have descended on the Gallery mall over the last few weeks? Or the building’s gloomy fortress walls, which have weighed down Philadelphia’s traditional shopping street for well over three decades?

My vote goes to the blank walls.

It often feels as if the Gallery has been in decline ever since it opened in the late ’70s, as the nation’s first urban mall. Back then, Philadelphia could at least take satisfaction in having a retail amenity associated with the rising suburbs. But now, shopping malls everywhere are fighting for their lives, as anchoring department stores go the way of other general-interest pleasures, and Philadelphia finds itself stuck with an unattractive, underused box in the center of its downtown.

Some Illumination on Lighted Signs Needed

By Daniel Rubin, Inquirer Columnist

Mary Tracy sent out a cyber call to arms recently. She was rallying the citizenry to blast Councilman Frank DiCicco with e-mails, letting him know that his bill to brighten the few dim blocks of East Market Street with fancy building wraps and digital displays was a disaster in waiting.

Is she wrong to envision Las Vegas by the Delaware? Tracy, head of Scenic Philadelphia, Public Voice for Public Space, has long had religion when it comes to billboards. She started as a young mother in Overbrook Farms, successfully battling Clear Channel over an illegal advertisement for some monster movie that scared the pants off her children.

Since then, the former schoolteacher has helped take down ads that line the city’s gateways, erase corporate graffiti, and peel off the tiny “8 sheets” that pock poor neighborhoods like broken windows – signals that no one much cares.

DiCicco’s bill would wrap ads around buildings that beg for restoration and renewal, she says. So much money would come from these signs, she says, that landlords would have no incentive to fill the interiors with people.

Little Guys Win Big

Posted on Mon, Feb. 15, 2010

littleguyswinbig
Pictured left to right, Jean Gavin, Wanda Exline, Tim Kearney and  Marlene Sellers

Little guys win big
Citizens group savors its rescue of Burholme Park
By VALERIE RUSS
Philadelphia Daily News

russv@phillynews.com 215-854-5987

NOT FAR FROM the clamor of Cottman Avenue, where sandwich shops, hair salons and professional offices dot a bustling corridor, there is a wooded spot in Burholme Park with a creek running through it.

When city officials agreed to carve out some 20 acres of the lush, green park so that the nearby Fox Chase Cancer Center could expand, a group of ordinary residents took a stand. They wouldn’t let the park go. Not without a fight.

 

Letters: City Needs Policy on Digital Signs

Philadelphia Inquirer

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Letters to the Editor: City needs policy on digital signs peco_sign

Inga Saffron’s article on the PECO sign brings up an issue SCRUB has been working on for quite some time – the issue of digital or electronic signage in the public space (“Signs of light,” Friday). The new sign has more intense lighting, more colors, and faster moving displays even though PECO, in trying out its new sign, has set the brightness at a fraction of what it could be.

Philadelphia currently has no comprehensive policy for electronic signs. It is a given that this technology will continue to evolve and grow. The question we need to ask now is, how do we want this technology used in Philadelphia? Should large commercial logo signs on buildings be allowed to change to bright, moving digital signs? Should neighborhood stores have large, bright signs advertising items sold in their stores all day and night? How about videos with sound?

New sign technologies make living inside a never-ending television commercial a very real possibility. Do we want that to be our reality in Philadelphia?

Lynn McConville
Board member
Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight
Philadelphia
lmcconville@verizon.net

 

Editorial: Fighting blight on a bigger stage

August 3, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Don’t get Mary Tracy started about those newfangled electronic billboards cropping up on the nation’s highways – that is, unless you have the time to talk.

The antibillboard activist and founder of Philadelphia-based Scenic Philadelphia- which bills itself as “the Public Voice for Public Space” – sees the flashing billboards as a bane to distracted drivers and the environment.

 

Editorial: Fighting blight on a bigger stage

August 3, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Don’t get Mary Tracy started about those newfangled electronic billboards cropping up on the nation’s highways – that is, unless you have the time to talk.

The antibillboard activist and founder of Philadelphia-based Scenic Philadelphia- which bills itself as “the Public Voice for Public Space” – sees the flashing billboards as a bane to distracted drivers and the environment.

 

Leave city’s parkland alone

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Philadelphia Inquirer

By: Sandra Shea

Today’s Daily News editorial, analyzing a judge’s decision to stop Fox Chase Cancer Center from taking city parkland to expand, also marks the beginning of a new intensity the editorial board will be bringing to scrutiny of the parks.  Now that the parks and recreation departments will be merged, we’re concerned how well and how quickly that gets done, so over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking closely at this important issue.

Judge Saves Burholme Park from Hospital

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Skyline Online

By: Inga Saffron

This just in: Orphans Court Judge John W. Herron Jr. has just issued an opinion denying the city the right to sell 20 acres of Burholme Park to Fox Chase Cancer Center. The park remains a park. ” The public trust doctrine, the appropriate rule of law applied in these circumstances, leaves no doubt and requires that the petition for court approval to lease Burholme Park be denied,” Herron writes. Read the decision here and my recent column here. More to come.

Battle continues over hospital’s use of park site

Wed, Jun. 10, 2009

By Tom Waring

Times Staff Writer

Both sides in the battle over the future of Burholme Park emerged from a Monday afternoon court hearing confident of victory.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, located at 333 Cottman Ave., wants to expand by using 19.4 acres of the 65-acre park.

Common Pleas Court Judge John Herron in December ruled against the cancer center’s bid to grow by building on the adjacent Burholme Park, Cottman and Central avenues.

Court to City: “Parks Too Precious to Privatize”

Upon Further Review, The Philadelphia Bar Association

February 6, 2009

By: Stacey Graham

Philadelphia Orphans’ Court Judge, John W. Herron’s recent decision on the City of Philadelphia’s petition to grant a long-term lease of Burholme Park property to Fox Chase Cancer Center could not be clearer. Despite the economic recession and related financial woes, the City cannot solve its problems by divvying up viable parkland to the highest bidder or to the bidder promising jobs and long-term revenue for the City. Simply put, municipalities do not have the authority to privatize parkland that is actively used for recreation.

 

Public-Private Conflict Over Philadelphia’s Public Spaces

The Legal Intelligencer

April 27, 2009

By: Rebecca E. Johnson, Esq.

The look, feel, and energy of Philadelphia’s public spaces reflect who we are. These public spaces – everything from the sidewalk to the skyline – belong to everyone, yet are owned by no one. It’s in these shared spaces that a growing tug-of-war is emerging between public and private interests, a conflict over using our shared, public spaces for private gain.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Burholme Park Case Under King’s Bench Power

The Legal Intelligencer

Friday, February 27, 2009

By Amaris Elliott-Engel Of the Legal Staff

The state Supreme Court has decided against exercising its King’s Bench jurisdiction to hear fast-tracked arguments over Fox Chase Cancer Center’s desire to expand its campus onto several acres of Burholme Park in Northeast Philadelphia.

The court denied Fox Chase’s application for extraordinary relief under King’s Bench jurisdiction in In re Estate of Robert W. Ryerss, Deceased in a per curiam order issued Thursday. Fox Chase is appealing Philadelphia Orphans’ Court Judge John W. Herron’s decision to deny Fox Chase’s and the city of Philadelphia’s application to let Fox Chase sublease a portion of the park in order to expand its highly trafficked medical facility.

Fox Chase, loser in park ruling, wants to leapfrog to Supreme Court

By VALERIE RUSS
Philadelphia Daily News

Fox Chase Cancer Center wants to skip Commonwealth Court and go directly to the State Supreme Court to appeal an Orphans Court judge’s ruling that rejected its planned $1 billion expansion into Burholme Park.

Fox Chase Cancer Center intends to file a “king’s bench” appeal next week to speed up the process, Fox Chase spokesman Tim Spreitzer said yesterday.

Unisys Makes A Bid For Center City Signs

Daily News, Philly Clout

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

unisys_400Unisys, the Blue Bell-based tech firm that has signed a 15-year lease to relocate to Center City’s Two Liberty Place, spent two hours this afternoon trying to convince the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to let it hang giant corporate logos on the east and west sides of the building.  The company, which needs a zoning variance for the signs, faces opposition from the residents in newly converted condos in the building and an anti-blight group.

Letters: Philadelphia Parks Are Not Disposable Assets

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The editorial “The park’s close call” on May 30 aptly noted that the dissolution of the Fairmount Park Commission has created risks. When we lost the Park Commission, we lost a layer of public participation and the veto power of an independent commission that had preserved dedicated parkland for more than 100 years. The Parks and Recreation Commission is an advisory group wielding no such power. Politics and deep-pocketed developers often prevail in City Council despite well-crafted land-use policies.

The Felling of the Hoagie City Billboard

Philadelphia City Paper, September 12, 2007

The big billboard was everyone’s poster child for urban blight.

by Bruce Schimmel

The big billboard at 40th and Lancaster was everyone’s poster child for urban blight. Hiding the historic façade of the West Philadelphia Title and Trust Bank, it promoted sneakers and booze, and depressed the neighborhood for more than 50 years.

Giant ad on Inquirer building in doubt

September 12, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer
By Patrick Kerkstra
Inquirer Staff Writer

A plan to temporarily drape the Inquirer-Daily News Building with a massive advertisement for the film Bee Movie was in doubt yesterday, after community groups denounced the effort, calling it “garish” and “shocking.”

The advertising needs approval before it can go up, and representatives from Philadelphia Media Holdings, which publishes The Inquirer and the Daily News, sought that permission yesterday morning from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Ads in the digital age

The Northeast Times, September 6, 2007
By William KennyTimes Staff Writer

Sick of seeing “I hate Steven Singer” in giant bold letters on your way downtown every work day?

How about the litany of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Yuengling ads that loom over Interstate 95 mile after mile leading up to the South Philadelphia stadium exits?

Some relief, at least a form of it, may be on the way for motorists who view local highway billboards as more of a nuisance than an incentive to patronize the products or viewpoints that they purport.

The Felling of the Hoagie City Billboard

Philadelphia City Paper, September 12, 2007

The big billboard was everyone’s poster child for urban blight.

by Bruce Schimmel

The big billboard at 40th and Lancaster was everyone’s poster child for urban blight. Hiding the historic façade of the West Philadelphia Title and Trust Bank, it promoted sneakers and booze, and depressed the neighborhood for more than 50 years.

Neighbors hope to pull digital billboards

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Mark Legan has enjoyed his quiet, leafy neighborhood for 12 years, until someone threw a switch and filled his nights with bright, colorful lights.

“When the sun goes down, you can’t ignore it,” he says, gesturing from his living room toward the giant television billboard that recently went up a half block away on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Ads in the digital age

The Northeast Times, September 6, 2007
By William KennyTimes Staff Writer

Sick of seeing “I hate Steven Singer” in giant bold letters on your way downtown every work day?

How about the litany of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Yuengling ads that loom over Interstate 95 mile after mile leading up to the South Philadelphia stadium exits?

Some relief, at least a form of it, may be on the way for motorists who view local highway billboards as more of a nuisance than an incentive to patronize the products or viewpoints that they purport.

Video billboards coming this way

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 21, 2007

Police praise them. Conservationists and driver-safety groups oppose them.

By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer

One of ClearChannel’s digital billboards in the Cleveland area. The outdoor-advertising company said an engineer it hired studied traffic for 18 months before and after the billboards’ installation and found no link to highway accidents.

Praised by police, criticized by scenic conservationists and driver-safety groups, and hugely profitable for their owners, digital billboards are about to enter the Philadelphia area.

Neighbors hope to pull digital billboards

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Mark Legan has enjoyed his quiet, leafy neighborhood for 12 years, until someone threw a switch and filled his nights with bright, colorful lights.

“When the sun goes down, you can’t ignore it,” he says, gesturing from his living room toward the giant television billboard that recently went up a half block away on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Digital billboards to debut in city

Philadelphia Daily News, August 21, 2007
By CATHERINE LUCEY
luceyc@phillynews.com
215-854-4172

Digital billboards – which rotate through several static advertisements each minute – will make their debut in the Philadelphia area this week. Already the high-tech signs have critics.

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings has installed four of the computer-controlled billboards in the city and four in the surrounding counties. Advocates say the boards benefit advertisers, allowing them to easily change their messages – touting a sale one day and a new product the next.

Video billboards coming this way

By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer

One of ClearChannel’s digital billboards in the Cleveland area. The outdoor-advertising company said an engineer it hired studied traffic for 18 months before and after the billboards’ installation and found no link to highway accidents.

Praised by police, criticized by scenic conservationists and driver-safety groups, and hugely profitable for their owners, digital billboards are about to enter the Philadelphia area.

Street’s Billboard Deal Paves the Way for Electronic Billboards in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA – Last August when Mayor John Street announced his administration’s secret settlement with three players in the outdoor advertising industry, SCRUB voiced concerns about the impact of carte-blanche billboard legalization that gives up $9 million dollars in licensing fees. Now, just a year later, the City is poised to allow ClearChannel to replace conventional billboards with high-tech, electronic billboards, granting yet another plum to the outdoor advertising industry at the expense of Philadelphia’s visual environment and driver safety.

Digital billboards to debut in city

Philadelphia Daily News, August 21, 2007
By CATHERINE LUCEY
luceyc@phillynews.com
215-854-4172

Digital billboards – which rotate through several static advertisements each minute – will make their debut in the Philadelphia area this week. Already the high-tech signs have critics.

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings has installed four of the computer-controlled billboards in the city and four in the surrounding counties. Advocates say the boards benefit advertisers, allowing them to easily change their messages – touting a sale one day and a new product the next.

Street’s Billboard Deal Paves the Way for Electronic Billboards in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA – Last August when Mayor John Street announced his administration’s secret settlement with three players in the outdoor advertising industry, Scenic Philadelphia voiced concerns about the impact of carte-blanche billboard legalization that gives up $9 million dollars in licensing fees. Now, just a year later, the City is poised to allow ClearChannel to replace conventional billboards with high-tech, electronic billboards, granting yet another plum to the outdoor advertising industry at the expense of Philadelphia’s visual environment and driver safety.

No Bees on the Inquirer

September 17, 2007
New York Times
By PRADNYA JOSHI

Since taking over The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News last year, Brian P. Tierney, chief executive of Philadelphia Media Holdings, has been encouraging his advertising department to be creative in its use of promotions.

Bee ad for Inquirer building dropped

September 15, 2007
Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Brian Tierney, CEO of the newspaper, took the wings off the plan. Critics called it garish. By Robert Moran Inquirer Staff Writer Stung by community opposition, a pun-inspired Brian Tierney, chief of the company that owns The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, said yesterday that he would no longer seek city permission to allow the placement of a giant inflatable bee and banners on the Inquirer and Daily News Building to advertise a Jerry Seinfeld movie.

No Bees on the Inquirer

September 17, 2007
New York Times
By PRADNYA JOSHI

Since taking over The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News last year, Brian P. Tierney, chief executive of Philadelphia Media Holdings, has been encouraging his advertising department to be creative in its use of promotions.

Building ad swatted. Why? Bee-cause

September 15, 2007

Philadelphia Daily News
By MARK McDONALD
mcdonam@phillynews.com
215-854-2646

To bee or not to bee?

That was the question.

Answer: Not.

Brian Tierney, chief executive officer of Philadelphia Media Holdings (PMH), which owns the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com, decided yesterday to kill plans to put a giant inflatable bee on the company’s North Broad Street headquarters.

The Logan and Callowhill neighborhood associations had opposed the promotion for the upcoming film “Bee Movie.” Earlier, the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment had postponed a decision on the company’s request for a variance to allow the promotion, which also included two large banner ads running down the side of the building. The promotion was to run for three weeks.

Bee ad for Inquirer building dropped

September 15, 2007
Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Brian Tierney, CEO of the newspaper, took the wings off the plan. Critics called it garish. By Robert Moran Inquirer Staff Writer Stung by community opposition, a pun-inspired Brian Tierney, chief of the company that owns The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, said yesterday that he would no longer seek city permission to allow the placement of a giant inflatable bee and banners on the Inquirer and Daily News Building to advertise a Jerry Seinfeld movie.

Giant ad on Inquirer building in doubt

September 12, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer
By Patrick Kerkstra
Inquirer Staff Writer

A plan to temporarily drape the Inquirer-Daily News Building with a massive advertisement for the film Bee Movie was in doubt yesterday, after community groups denounced the effort, calling it “garish” and “shocking.”

The advertising needs approval before it can go up, and representatives from Philadelphia Media Holdings, which publishes The Inquirer and the Daily News, sought that permission yesterday morning from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Building ad swatted. Why? Bee-cause

September 15, 2007

Philadelphia Daily News
By MARK McDONALD
mcdonam@phillynews.com
215-854-2646

To bee or not to bee?

That was the question.

Answer: Not.

Brian Tierney, chief executive officer of Philadelphia Media Holdings (PMH), which owns the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com, decided yesterday to kill plans to put a giant inflatable bee on the company’s North Broad Street headquarters.

The Logan and Callowhill neighborhood associations had opposed the promotion for the upcoming film “Bee Movie.” Earlier, the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment had postponed a decision on the company’s request for a variance to allow the promotion, which also included two large banner ads running down the side of the building. The promotion was to run for three weeks.