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Digital billboard petition gets started

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 by Jo Clifton

A new political action group called SignOnAustin has hired longtime community organizer Linda Curtis to start a petition drive to support a change in the city’s billboard regulations that would permit digital billboards. Austin’s billboard companies, Reagan Outdoor Advertising and Lamar Advertising Company, have long been frustrated by the city’s sign regulations, which are written with the purpose of eliminating billboards. According to a press release from SignOnAustin, the group is “a coalition of Austin-based employers, law enforcement agencies, and community groups that believe the city needs a network of outdoor advertising befitting its reputation as a hub of digital technology. Its supporters include the Austin Police Association, the Austin Independent Business Alliance, Reagan Outdoor Advertising, and The Davis Group.” According to the group’s website, Austin is the only large city in Texas that does not allow digital advertising. Curtis said Monday that she intends to collect 20,000 valid signatures to force an election on the question of allowing digital billboards within approximately the next six months. She acknowledged that the group is acting like a political action committee but had not gotten around to filing a designation of treasurer with the Office of the City Clerk. She said they had been very busy and would get it done soon. The press release states that, “SignOnAustin’s proposal would allow for a limited number of auto-dimming, environmentally friendly digital billboards in locations approved by the Austin City Council, provide the Austin Police Department and other public agencies with access to those signs for digital AMBER alerts and other emergency advisories, and protect Austin’s local sign ordinance from legal challenges by billboard owners.” If the city decided to allow digital billboards, there would be no need for an election. A group called Scenic Austin has been the major opponent of allowing digital billboards and has opposed billboards in general for years.

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