More Digital Billboard City Restrictions

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Sao Paulo, Toronto, Los Angeles – and now it’s Rapid City, South Dakota!

Rapid City has taken the first step towards tightening the rules for digital billboards by signing off on recommendations of a contentious citizen task force.

If the recommendations are adopted, outdoor advertising companies would be required to take down two existing billboards for each new digital billboard face they want to build or convert in Rapid City. A sign company would have to take down four existing billboards to erect a two-sided digital billboard.

The Rapid City Council voted 8-2 in favour of pursuing the recommendations. The council will still have to approve first and second reading of the ordinance formalizing the policy change, a process that could be completed by the end of July.

A new task force will also be formed to look at long-term solutions to billboard issues. A 90-day moratorium on all new billboards expires June 15.

Currently, sign companies that want to build a new billboard must first take down at least one billboard of equal size, or what the city calls two sign credits. But if a sign company converts an existing static billboard to a digital billboard, no signs must be taken down. Under the current sign code, billboard companies have already taken down 30 static boards.

In debating the proposed recommendations, Alderman Ron Kroeger suggested extending the moratorium for an additional 60 days to allow further discussion on the proposal. Kroeger said the task force’s recommendations would penalize sign companies for embracing new technology, adding, “Technology advances your business; it doesn’t penalize it.”

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