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Year in Review: Future’s so bright

Clear Channel gets: coal. San Antonio gets: shades

 

Early next year, most likely January 29, Development Services will report to Council on the City’s year-old digital-billboard pilot
program
, which gave two companies the right to erect 15 hi-def “variable message” signs along SA’s highways, including Scenic and Scenic Urban Corridors. The lion’s share of those went to Alamo homeboys Clear Channel Outdoor — primary pusher of digital signage here and abroad — and the company will likely return to City Hall next year for another round of signs to add to their existing dozen.

But the City’s status update is being assembled more like a middle-school science report than a federal study. In addition to calculating the square-footage of old vinyl faces retired for each new swath of digital, Development Services is required by the ordinance to evaluate the safety impact of the billboards, which they’re doing by comparing the number of traffic accidents around the signs during three-month periods before and after they were erected — an exercise that will likely raise more questions than it answers.

Clear Channel has had a successful 12-month run in San Antonio (they’ve locked in decade-long advertising contracts at the airport, the Henry B. and the Alamodome) despite sustained public criticism from the Conservation Society and Scenic San Antonio — perhaps not surprising for such a generous donor to the Mayor’s 2007 bond and 2008 term-limit initiatives* ($65,000) and at least one former Councilman/current County Commissioner ($8,000, including Officially Registered Friends of CC). Following the successful passage of the digital-billboard pilot program, Development Services decided to neuter the Electrical Supervisory Board, the citizens’ panel that had become the default public-protest ground for individual digital-sign permits, and Clear Channel lobbyists convinced the City to include a digital-billboard exception in the new Dark Skies ordinance designed to protect Camp Bullis’s nighttime training program.

The last two items telegraph Clear Channel’s intention to push for more of the lucrative signs, a move that won’t come as a surprise to anyone. “Whether it’s within the Scenic Corridor or otherwise, it’s a money-maker for them,” says District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriguez, the lone vote against the pilot program. He notes the billboards have only been in place for about five months, and suggests Council should wait until they’ve been shining down on San Antonio for a full year before trying to evaluate their impact. (Or, shoot, wait for the federal study due in 2009.) Our guess is, Clear Channel won’t tarry that long, even though last month’s extension and padding of City Manager (and, like Clear Channel Outdoor President Blake Custer, City of Phoenix alum) Sheryl Sculley’s contract means they’ll likely have a sympathetic ear long after Mayor Hardberger’s retired to his sailboat.

*This story was corrected. It originally reported that Clear Channel donated to the Mayor's 2008 venue-tax initiative.

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Year in Review: A star over Big Tex : EPA gets: a turtle 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Drug Tsars : Bexar County Probation gets: a lump of coal 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Black-eyed Susan : The Bexar County DA gets: a lump of coal, with paraphernalia 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Watchdog in time out : James Myart gets: R&R 12/31/2008

Year in Review: The Book of  Revelation : Reverend Seymour Perkins gets: the scales of Justice 12/31/2008

Year in Review: PERF-o-rated : SAPD gets: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Busy signal : COSA and Bexar County DA Reed get: a lump of coal 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Keep the bums in : City Council gets: huevos 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Future’s so bright : Clear Channel gets: coal. San Antonio gets: shades 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Hardberger Plaza : The Mayor gets: a lump of coal 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Free speech fight : Free Speech Coalition gets: a shiny new bullhorn 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Parking violation : SAPD gets: a lump of coal. SAPPOA gets: a burro 12/31/2008

Year in Review: The (almost) free lunch : San Antonio tourists get: the bill! 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Taking a hike : The Park and Museum Reach subcommittees and the River Oversight Committee get: a framed copy of the Constitution 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Pennies from heaven : CPS and Council get: a lump of coal 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Nuclear options : City Council gets: Carbon Free and Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy 12/31/2008

Year in Review: Electrical bill (hidden costs) : CPS gets: a lump of coal 12/31/2008

2008 Year in Review in News 12/31/2008

The buck stops over there somewhere in Mashup 12/3/2008

Clear Channel likes skies bright, citizens in the dark in Mashup 11/26/2008

The QueQue in The QueQue 10/1/2008

Sign off in Mashup 8/27/2008

Hang ’em high (and fast) : A digital-billboard primer 8/27/2008

The QueQue in The QueQue 8/27/2008

The QueQue in The QueQue 8/20/2008

Demand free radio in CurBlog 3/6/2008

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