Billboard bill to go before City Council

Proposal likely to go before City Council within next few weeks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Back in 1987, voters approved a change in the city charter to phase out billboards, but the battle has never really gone away. 

There's now a bill about to go before City Council that would basically bring billboards back.

"Quite frankly, they're ugly, they're distracting. If you're driving down the road and your attention is being diverted to read an ad for 5-6 seconds and your eyes are being taken away from the road for more than a second and a half, that's distracting," said Bill Brinson, with Scenic Jacksonville.

City Councilman John Crescimbeni talked to News4Jax about Ordinance 20-13-493.

"It's going to gut a charter amendment that was not only put on the ballot by the citizens back in 1987 but approved by the citizens in an election in May of '87," said Crescimbeni.

Both Brinson and Crescimbeni said this bill has been written and is being pushed by attorneys and lobbyists for billboard companies, like Clear Channel Outdoor.

Clear Channel sent News4Jax a statement when the bill was first introduced last year:

"Billboards play a vital role in Jacksonville, promoting local businesses, the arts and not-for-profits, and supporting law enforcement and emergency services. As a proud member of the Jacksonville community, Clear Channel supports reasonable regulations that will ensure billboards can continue to play these important roles."

Brinson said if this goes through, something so many people have worked so hard for will have been changed by just a few.

"It's not being changed at the ballot box. It's being changed by lobbyists writing the law to overturn what the voters did, which is voter nullification."

The proposal will likely go before City Council within the next few weeks, according to Crescimbeni.

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