Hearing set on city-owned billboard 

A billboard on a government building is suddenly the center of a whole lot of attention.

At issue is whether the Board of Supervisors should approve a deal with a billboard adverting company for use of a 20 foot by 60 foot space on the wall of the city building at 1650 Mission St. It is the only billboard on a city building, and would generate at least $345,000 in revenue during the next five years.

But when the proposal came up for a vote on March 6, those who consider billboards blight heard about the deal and called for a postponement. The agreement was sent back to a board committee for further debate.

Now, director of Real Estate John Updike is holding a community meeting Tuesday to assist the board with its decision. The Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee is expected to vote on the proposal March 26.

Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, a nonprofit group working to improve neighborhoods and make them safer for walking and biking, said billboards are blight and that approving the deal would set back neighborhood improvement efforts and be “flouting the will of the voters.” Voters have consistently approved restrictions on advertising, including Proposition G in 2002, which prohibited the installation of additional billboards.

Alternative suggestions include leaving the wall white, or installing a mural or wall garden.

“I’d love to hear what the community thinks,” Updike said. He explained that “as a building operator, I look at it as a tenancy and it helps cover the cost of the building. A mural would be very attractive. The problem is fiscally I have an issue there.”

The City purchased the building in 2007 and inherited the permit for the advertising sign. The contract with CBS Outdoor expired last year and then a competitive bidding process was used to select Total Outdoor, one of the five bidders.


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