Signs of the Times

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

or Illinois, Missouri’s most commercially developed neighbor.

SOS says that Missouri’s billboard law is one of the weakest in the nation and denies local governments the authority necessary to effectively regulate billboards, a claim that MOAA disputes. May says Prop. A would prevent local governments from passing billboard regulations less stringent than state rules, reducing the freedom of cities and counties that welcome outdoor advertising.

May says MOAA has supported reasonable regulations of outdoor advertising. However, Kruse says outdoor advertisers have supported billboard laws only when they thought that doing so would prevent stricter regulation. He says billboard companies frequently sue local governments over the very regulations they once supported, forcing cities and counties to spend taxpayer dollars to defend the right to enforce their regulations.

All these arguments and counter-arguments, like billboards, make it easy to lose sight of the goal of Prop. A, preserving and enhancing Missouri’s scenic beauty. This goal won the support of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which represents 72 affiliate groups and nearly 30,000 individuals, including birdwatchers, hunters, campers and trail riders.

Asked why the federation supports Prop. A, Executive Director Denny Ballard said, "Missouri has enough billboards to allow businesses to advertise their goods and services. They are becoming a blight on the landscape. Saying ‘enough is enough’ isn’t an extremist position."

How you vote on Prop. A depends on how much weight you assign to different values. If you find billboards ugly - litter on a stick, as SOS calls them - you’ll probably vote "yes." You’ll probably also vote for Prop. A if you believe, as Vermonters do, that the economic benefits from more beautiful highways will outweigh the advantages of outdoor advertising. If you find billboards more useful than distracting, you may vote "no."

Ask yourself what’s most important to you and what’s likely to serve Missouri best in the long run, and then cast your vote accordingly.

For more information about Proposition A, contact:

Save Our Scenery

5650A S. Sinclair Road

Columbia, MO 65203

(573) 446-3120

www.scenicmissouri.org

or

Missouri Outdoor Advertising Assn.

112 E. High Street, Second Floor

Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 761-5195

www.readthefineprint.org

SUPPORTERS & OPPONENTS

People and groups who publicly favor Prop. A

  • Conservation Federation of Missouri
  • Missouri Municipal League
  • Silver Dollar City, Inc. Branson
  • The Lodge of Four Seasons, Inc.
  • Lake of the Ozarks Tan-Tar-A Estates, Inc.
  • Lake of the Ozarks Hallmark Cards, Inc.
  • Kansas City Missouri League of Women Voters
  • Missouri Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
  • Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • Missouri Parks Association
  • Missouri Parks and Recreation Association
  • Missouri Association for Social Welfare
  • St. Louis Clergy Coalition
  • 16 garden clubs from around the state
  • 9 Missouri banks
  • 3 chambers of commerce
  • Sierra Club, Ozark Chapter
  • Missouri Audubon Council
  • Former Missouri Republican Party Chairman Woody Cozad
  • Former Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Gene Bushmann
  • Former US Senator John C. Danforth
  • Former US Rep. Alan Wheat

Groups against Prop. A

  • Missouri Association of Outdoor Advertisers
  • Outdoor Advertising Association of America
  • St. Louis Association of Realtors
  • St. Louis Labor Council
  • St. Louis Building and Construction Trades
  • Wyne and Merritt, P.C.
  • Missouri Automobile Dealers Association
  • Missouri Caves Association
  • National Federation of Independent Businesses
  • NATSO - America's Travel Plazas and Truck Stops
  • Kansas City Station Corp.
  • Major Brands, Inc.
  • Mid-America Hearing Center
  • Two chambers of commerce
  • Software To Go

How Other States Deal with Billboards

  • Twenty-five states already have full or partial bans on billboards. Vermont, Hawaii and Maine have removed all billboards from highway rights-of-way by law. Alaska’s constitution prohibits billboards.
  • Rhode Island prohibited new billboards in 1990. Oregon placed a cap on billboard numbers on state and federal roads in 1975.
  • States that prohibit new billboards in unzoned areas along interstate highways include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The average billboard on Missouri’s primary highways is 14 feet tall by 48 feet wide. The state’s nearly 13,500 regulated billboards have a total area of about 9 million square feet. That’s equal to one billboard a mile wide and three-tenths of a mile tall.

Missouri allows billboards along interstate and primary highways only on commercial or industrial zoned land or on unzoned land if there is commercial or industrial activity within 600 feet. Billboards are not allowed in areas without local zoning codes. This accounts for the relative dearth of billboards along roads in rural areas where there is no county planning.

State law requires billboards along rural interstate highways to be:

  • No more than 800 square feet.
  • No more than 30 feet tall or 60 feet wide, excluding support structures.
  • At least 500 feet apart
  • No more than two signs stacked vertically

Billboards also display public service announcements. Are billboards the best or only way to deliver such messages?

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