Published 1-29-14 The Signal
No one likes a NIMBY. I, like most, have found them selfish, self-centered, narrow-minded and stubborn.
However, due to a plan proposed by Metro to build electronic billboards on our local freeways, I’ve recently joined the NIMBY ranks, embracing the label and waving my NIMBY flag high.
The plan, pending City Council approval, is to “eliminate 118 billboards on 62 structures within the center of the city in exchange for allowing three freeway adjacent digital billboards along I-5 and SR 14 on city-owned property,” according to http://billboards.santa-clarita.com.
The three new billboards would be located as follows: Highway 14 1,000 feet southeast of Oak Springs Canyon; Highway 14 about a 1/4 mile south of Eternal Valley Memorial Park; the east side of I-5 north of Magic Mountain Parkway.
Each billboard would be double-the sign faces would be 14 feet tall by 48 feet wide, and the pole height would vary between 54 feet and 64 feet tall.
My conversion to NIMBYism occurred because, although not literally in my backyard, one of these garish billboards will be close enough.
The sign slated for Oak Spring will be located less than 400 feet from our housing tract and about 600 feet from my home — most likely viewable from our bedrooms and patio.
Yes, please forgive me, but I don’t want that “in my backyard.”
Granted, seeing a billboard, static or electronic, from my home isn’t the end of the world; I will get over it and hopefully so will our property values.
My concern is the precedent it will set for that stretch of land and other parcels within the city.
I’ve become a “NIMBY crat” because the proposed location off Oak Spring is currently zoned as open space and will require a zoning change to business park.”
According to a city of Santa Clarita staff report for the project, other than the Canyon Gardens housing located 400 feet to the north, there are no other structures within 1,000 feet.
It’s clear that a 54-foot-high sign does not belong in open space.
Similar to giving a mouse a cookie, if you allow one electronic billboard, or three as proposed, there is little to stop the powersthatfrom building as many as possible along our freeways.
Fortunately, before approving the plan, the Santa Clarita Planning Commission had the forethought to limit electronic billboards to every 2,500 feet.
However that still leaves the option open for many others. Does Santa Clarita really want to be known as the city with electronic billboards? Doesn’t sound too inviting for prospective homebuyers.
Besides the electronic billboards ruining my view, removing the signs in the city could have a dramatic effect on local businesses, many of whom use the signs along the Soledad Canyon and Railroad Avenue corridors for advertising and directional information.
Billboards provide a cost-effective, direct means of advertising that would be eliminated without alternatives under this plan.
Will the three proposed signs be affordable and of value for many of those who currently utilize the medium? How valuable will directions to The Computer Chip, New Life Assembly of God Church or Private Mini Storage be for cars going 65 mph southbound on Highway 14 or northbound on Interstate 5?
One business most likely to feel the greatest impact is Edwards Outdoor Advertising. An SCV-based, family-owned company for 50 years, Edwards owns 20-plus signs slated for removal, which will cause a significant loss of revenue, endangering the future of the business.
Certainly without question, removing 62 billboard structures throughout the city would improve the esthetics of our community, and beatification is a worthy goal. However, there are other possible solutions.
An obvious and reasonable alternative is to remove some of the signs, perhaps those over a certain size, and replace them with low-profile electronic billboards within the same general locations.
This compromise would provide beautification, allow local businesses to use the new signs and lessen the economic impact.
Most importantly, signs would not be moved to other areas of the city where signs currently don’t exist.
Of course, if electronic billboards were proposed along Newhall Avenue, Railroad Avenue and Soledad Canyon Road, most likely an entire new batch of “NIMBYcrats” and “NIMBYicans” would emerge to fight the same battle.
Since the 50-foot-tall signs wouldn’t be in my backyard, my opposition would be limited. I have the noise and lights of Soledad Canyon and Highway 14 in my backyard; that’s enough.
I’ve made my stand; let a new batch of NIMBYs fight an alternative plan.
Like I said, no one likes a NIMBY.
Brian Springer is a Canyon Country resident.