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Digital Signage Veto — A Victory and Future Battles

Mayor Nutter veto

Veto of Councilman Squilla’s Digital Signage Bill  by Rosanne Loesch


Callowhill and neighborhoods south of it, including Society Hill, had a narrow escape from the billboard district bill. Mayor Nutter vetoed the bill in January, and First District Councilman Mark Squilla, in an eleventh-hour move, decided not to ask City Council to override the veto. The bill (front page article in the Jan/Feb Reporter) would have allowed a seven-story digital advertising sign on the Electric Factory building, at 7th and Callow hill, owned by New York developer Myron Berman. Whether three court decisions (including the Pennsylvania and U.S. Supreme Courts) and two mayoral vetoes will finally squash Berman’s campaign to put a giant digital wall wrap on his building is anyone’s guess. However, we hope that we have heard the last of this matter. (Read the January 30, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer editorial for more information on this bill.)

But the war against visual pollution in our city is not over. As Philadelphia Inquirer author writes, “But beyond the success in this one instance is the overriding question of whether we Philadelphians are going to let digital signs take over our historic city. (Read Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer February 12, 2013.) Billboard companies are moving aggressively to convert existing billboards to digital signs and expand into new areas where billboards were previously prohibited. For Philadelphia, a city where commercial and residential districts exist cheek by the jowl, the far-traveling, intense, pulsating light of digital signs could significantly affect the quality of life for residents and the look of this historic city.”

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