SALT LAKE CITY — He’s not mayor, but he is not preventing his combat against billboards.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has a long history of conflict with primary billboard firms. And even if he is not in place of job, Becker has helped release a brand new Utah effort to battle what he calls the “proliferation” of what has nearly turn into an “embarrassing blight” on Utah surroundings.
Becker and his spouse, Kate Kopischke, have labored in combination to release Scenic Utah, a state associate of the nationwide nonprofit Scenic America, a bunch “dedicated solely to preserving and enhancing the visual character of America’s communities and countryside,” in keeping with its website.
“We want to fight the visual blight that too often occurs from just a lack of attentiveness and a lack of organized effort to protect the spectacular, visual qualities of both our communities and landscapes,” Becker instructed KSL in an interview Thursday, the day ahead of the brand new crew’s authentic release.
Friday, Scenic Utah is co-hosting the annual Scenic America Symposium on the Alta Club in downtown Salt Lake City — a daylong convention with presenters who will focal point on city making plans and public coverage, billboard and signal regulate, darkish sky preservation, and the way to give protection to scenic byways, in keeping with the development’s agenda.
“We are thrilled to be meeting in Utah this year,” Ryke Longest, chairman of Scenic America’s board of administrators, mentioned in a ready remark. “We look forward to bringing affiliates from all over the country together to experience the state’s stunning natural beauty and the Salt Lake City’s local character.”
Becker’s red meat with billboards dates again a long time. He’s known as them community blights, deterrents to financial building, and reasons of scenic panorama degradation, all fueled by way of what he calls a large political affect by way of the massive companies.
More particularly, Becker has had a longstanding warfare with Reagan Outdoor Advertising, Utah’s biggest billboard corporate.
“With Scenic Utah, we will have a place for those of us who care about the iconic landscapes and byways we have, and almost the embarrassing blight that has overtaken a lot of those vistas,” Becker mentioned.
“We’ll have a place we can organize and counteract some of the power Reagan Outdoor Advertising and these big corporate lobbyists who pretty much get their way at the Legislature and state government.”
Nate Sechrest, normal recommend for Reagan Outdoor Advertising, declined to remark in this tale when reached Thursday.
In the previous, officers from the corporate have argued against billboard restrictions, pronouncing they are unhealthy for trade and that almost all citizens do not suppose billboards are an issue.
Billboards cropped up as an issue in Becker’s unsuccessful 2015 bid for re-election after Reagan Outdoor Advertising paid for billboards for all of Becker’s challengers, together with a minimum of 15 for now-Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski.
At the time, Becker demanded Biskupski take down the billboards, but Biskupski mentioned she wasn’t in any respect concerned within the billboards and the corporate’s political motion committee had “every right to do whatever they want through free speech.”
In 1993, when Becker sat at the Salt Lake City Planning Commission, town officers attempted to cap and cut back the choice of billboards allowed in town limits. But that ordinance was once met with “strenuous opposition” from firms like Reagan Outdoor Advertising, Becker mentioned, which led to favorable billboard regulations passing on the state stage.
Becker mentioned Scenic Utah goals to foyer for extra anti-billboard law at state and town ranges.
Becker famous that he, representing Scenic Utah, already were given interested in some contemporary enchantment circumstances in entrance of Salt Lake City, the place team of workers denied an software from Reagan Outdoor Advertising for 2 new billboards alongside 400 South and North Temple in Salt Lake City.
Becker attended the enchantment listening to and argued against the enchantment. The listening to officer later upheld the denial.
“Knowing Reagan Outdoor Advertising, I know they’re not done continuing to pursue their case and if they operate the way they usually do, they’ll go to the state Legislature and get (lawmakers) to overturn the city ordinances that have been in place, because that’s what they do almost every year,” Becker mentioned.
In explicit, Becker’s were given his crosshairs on digital billboards, which he mentioned have turn into an increasingly more “glaring” downside, calling them not simplest “incredibly distracting and annoying but also a major public safety issue” for drivers.
“There’s a combination of things that cause us a lot of concern, and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to have those adverse impacts, both in terms of visual blight but also in terms of public safety, are considered as elected officials make decisions (about billboards),” Becker mentioned.
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