TAMPA, Fla. -- Lit up over parts of Tampa, electronic billboards have been a part of the advertising skyline for more than 10 years.
“Everybody was very fearful, we do not want Times Square,” said Marilyn Healy, a representative for Outfront Media.
Healy says evidence proved back then the signs were not intrusive when placed in the right location.
“At the time, they agreed to exclude [the Dale Mabry Highway]. Our position hasn’t changed,” said a woman advocating against the signs during public comment in the Tampa City Council meeting Thursday.
That woman and others are now pushing back against adding more.
“Visual blight, signage, utilities etc. is one of the things that we combat extensively,” she said.
The companies behind the signs are asking the Tampa City Council to approve expanding the area where the signs can be placed. See proposal here.
“The percentage of each company’s allowable percentage of total inventory for digital billboards would raise from 5 percent to 10 percent to accommodate these additional sites,” said Tom Neill, public affairs for Clear Channel Outdoor.
The expansion they are proposing would include:
- Dale Mabry Highway from Hillsborough Ave. to Kennedy Blvd.
- Gandy Blvd from Dale Mabry Hwy. to Westshore Blvd.
- Hillsborough Ave. from Dale Mabry Hwy. to MacDill Ave.
They say there is a trade-off to deal with blight. For every one digital sign, Clear Channel says 10 paper billboards are being taken down.
“Clear Channel Outdoor has removed an equivalent of 200 paper boards in the city. That is a huge cleanup or beautification of the city,” said Todd Pressman, a spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor.
But others are concerned about the bright signs shining over their neighborhood streets and into their windows at night.
"Either not to put it up or modify it in someway so that the light doesn’t infiltrate into our neighborhood," said one man during public comment.
The companies say these signs come with dimming software that automatically adjust the brightness for the time of day.
“Westshore and the Dale Mabry area continues to be a thriving part of the municipality,” said Neill. “To add a couple of digital billboards we hope won’t do anything but enhance the advertiser's ability to speak to those folks.”
City council members have moved the issue forward to its next reading and says they can tweak if necessary between now and then.