Every billboard in the city could be converted into brightly-lit LED message boards that change messages every six seconds, under a proposed ordinance being pushed hard by the billboard industry with enthusiastic in-house assistance by Ald. Mike D'Amato.
Fortunately, Aldermen Robert Bauman and Michael Murphy got the matter referred back to the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee, so there still is a chance to kill this thing before it lives.
This is a really bad piece of legislation. It should die.
The Department of Public Works has said signs should not be allowed to change more than every 30 seconds, because signs that change more often may distract drivers and pose safety concerns. There also are related concerns about light pollution, energy use and just the overall obnoxiousness of lights flashing in people's windows.
The Federal Highway Administration is studying the safety issues connected, but the industry does not want to wait for the study results. It wants those six-second message boards, and it wants them now.
At the very least, aldermen he council should wait for the FHWA study to be finished before rushing to do the billboard industry's bidding.
And residents who care about the historic aesthetic of some of the city's major neighborhoods might want to tell their aldermen that the blight of flashing LED billboards should never be endorsed by the Common Council or the mayor.