Editorial - Hey! Elk Grove City Council! Leave That Billboard Ordinance Alone

Though not exactly bucolic, if the Elk Grove City Council guts its current sign ordinance, this stretch of Hwy. 99 could become a visually...

Though not exactly bucolic, if the Elk Grove City Council guts its current sign ordinance, this stretch of Hwy. 99 could become a visually blighted area. Is this the vision the Elk Grove City Council has for the city?
To paraphrase Pink Floyd who sang "Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone," we implore the Elk Grove City Council to "Hey! City Council! Leave that ordinance alone." And not just for the obvious reasons either. 

The ordinance in question is of course the 2006 policy that limited the manner and location of where billboards can be located. Among other provisions the ordinance forbade the placement of billboards along the freeway for non-adjacent businesses.

Until earlier this year, the ordinance kept visual blight in check. The first inkling that a possible change to the ordinance was afoot came in March of this year when developer Gil Moore appeared before the city council seeking a billboard for his development that is not adjacent to the freeway.

At Moore's request the city is now considering changes to the ordinance that could potentially open the floodgates for more billboards along Highway 99 and I-5.

While there are many arguments in opposition and a few in favor of the change, we will set those aside and make a direct appeal to the city council members and ask them to consider a less quantifiable measurement that is nonetheless pervasive in our national discussion of politics on all levels. We are speaking of cynicism.

How often do we as a society speak of politics and politicians without a degree of cynicism? No matter what your political inclination is, chances are you view those opposing your position cynically.

And you know what, a lot of times we are justified. How many times have we seen an elected official say one thing and do the opposite?

This is the problem, and dare we say the opportunity, the Elk Grove City Council faces with this billboard matter. There is a strong perception that Moore, who has made large and legal financial contributions to city council members will have his request granted.

If this does happen as many expect, it will only breed further cynicism of who elected officials are really looking out for. Specifically the perception will be verified that the wants of well-funded campaign contributors, and in this case you can include McDonald's, will trump the greater good of the community.

But does it have to be this way?

In an interview on Elk Grove Patch yesterday, Elk Grove Council Member and mayoral candidate Gary Davis was asked specifically about the influence large contributors have in his decision making. Davis said "If it's a developer versus the community it's a no-brainer. I've consistently sided with the community."

We certainly hope when the city council deliberates this matter later today that Davis remains true to his words and his fellow council members heed this philosophy. The city council has an opportunity to restore a degree of the public's confidence tonight.

Let's hope they don't blow it.

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3 comments

Anonymous said...

I will be very surprised if they do not allow the signs to happen. If not now after November when they have been realected. If they postpone it and want additional information that means it will happen after November.Watch how they dance around this issue.Their is a lot of money that has been spent on all the councile members for it not to happen sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

I can see Mr. "Siding With the Community" looking for a compromise (make the sign smaller and I'll vote for it);

Mr. Skier harping about how his contributions did not influence his vote and cite economic development as justification to approve;

Ms. I need a park named after me and I'm the only one Gil Moore did not give to, sympathizing with small business owners who must play by the rules to eke out a living and voting no;

Mr. Jr. Scherman voting to delay, i.e. kick the can down the road please; and

Mr. Mayor voting no because no one owns him!

Anonymous said...

The city needs to look inward and prohibit businesses from hiring kids to jab point-of-sale signs at cars at intersections. It REALLY cheapens the city and the business. There are plenty of paid and free ways to advertise without littering the city. I say we also prohibit advertising flags and other signs from being jammed into the ground. The city and its residents shouldn't have to pick up the tab for the businesses not willing to advertise and/or buy a visible storefront.

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