Sign Ordinance + Billboards

Proposal 7, the modification of the sign ordinance, was voted through to the Full Council (to meet 2/25) with a do-pass recommendation unanimously at the Metropolitan Development Committee tonight (Feb 11). The proposal and its amendment are both linked below. 

A little background. Our sign ordinance was last updated in 1988 (under Mayor Hudnut). There has been need to comprehensive updates. When the revision process started, the city set forth two goals for the process were:

  1. Make sure we avoid as much First Amendment legal exposure as possible so Indianapolis retains the ability to craft our own policy as opposed to having it decided for us in Court.
  2. Encourage the removal of billboards in our neighborhoods. 

Proposal 7 is the updated sign ordinance. Attached (below in PDF form) is the amendment to Proposal 7. It passed unanimously out of the Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee tonight (Feb 11) to the Full Council (Feb 25).

The amendment has two major implications.

  1. It bans digital billboards in their entirety. 
  2. It does not include a mechanism by with to get rid of billboards in neighborhoods.

My vote of support for the amendment and subsequent proposal reflects the nearly unanimous views of many District 2 neighborhood associations and countless individuals. While it does not address getting billboards out of our neighborhoods (there are very limited ways of doing that, including the initially proposed digital billboard exchange), my constituents made it clear that their priority was continuing the electronic billboard ban. I thank them for their participation in this (lengthy) process and their valuable input throughout. 

While I was open to the possibility of electronic billboards in some limited capacity, I agreed with the summations of many neighborhood association leaders that the ratio of traditional billboards to be removed in order to erect a digital billboard (2:1) was too low. In addition, the points system wouldn’t allow the Council or neighborhoods to decide which billboards would be removed, but rather these decisions would be made by billboard companies. There were other issues with this proposal, but those were my main objections. With the electronic billboard ban taking those issues off the table, the proposal as amended is absolutely worth our support, and I expect it to pass at the Full Council meeting Feb 25. 

Proposal 7 (UNAMENDED). 

The amendment (link below) contains much of the relevant language (and all of the billboard verbiage). 

Prop 7 Amendment