Here in Tulsa, there’s been considerable discussion by the city council on what to do about digital billboards. Some officials want to restrict them, some want new spacing rules for them, and a few undoubtedly want to ban them (although that option is unlikely).
But it appears the Route 66 town of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has come up with an interesting compromise. According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:
The City Council has given Lamar Advertising, which owns nine billboards in the city, the go-ahead to build three electronic signs – two on the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue and another on the northeast corner of Arrow Route and the 15 Freeway.
The electronic billboards will replace nine signs, resulting in a decrease of six signs. The agreement allows the city to use the billboards for public service messages.
Councilman Sam Spagnolo said giving the city an opportunity to publicize fundraisers and other events is a plus. He described it as a “win-win.” […]
The two billboards at Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue will be 17 by 17 feet and in the shape of the Route 66 emblem. The billboard near the 15 Freeway will be 14 by 48 feet.
This makes a lot of sense. The billboard companies get their LED billboards, the city can use these newfangled devices to tout tourism and charities in the city, and the number of billboards overall drops.
If such a deal were struck in Tulsa, billboards could publicize Route 66, the Gilcrease Museum, the Golden Driller and other attractions. If you’re going to allow new advertising technology that creates more messages and is more attention-getting, make sure some public benefit comes from it.
For the record: I have a much less dim view of billboards than most. Billboards are part of the road-trip experience. A journey down Route 66 would be less interesting without messages such as “Free 72-oz. steak,” “Tucumcari Tonite!” and “Here It Is!” along the way.