Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Great Outdoors: Mural lobbyist joins big billboard graphics fray
Partially completed Blue Moon mural on side of downtown bar building complies with city code and is protected by the First Amendment, proprietor maintains
2013 seems to be shaping up as San Diego's year of the great billboard battle, as noted here earlier this week in Dorian Hargrove's report about the intense behind the scenes lobbying at city hall for high tech electronic signage, super huge billboards, and various definitions of art proposed for north of Broadway downtown.
The Downtown Partnership along with David Ehrlich and Jeff Marston of FinWater Advisors are requesting that city councilmembers create the San Diego Arts and Entertainment District, a 65-block swath of Downtown San Diego that would become home to now-illegal illuminated billboards, off-site advertising, and installations from local artists.
The move for more outdoor advertising has its critics, including attorney Pamela Wilson.
"San Diego needs to continue to strive to be an even more beautiful city than it already is, not add garish clutter by lifting the 30-year-old ban on new billboards."
"Digital billboards, wraps, rotating tri-faces and other distractions may be the last gasp of an ad medium going the way of the dinosaurs. You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. Or, as we like to say 'litter on a stick.'"
Latest to join the war over outdoor graphics is an outfit called ArchitectureArt, which has retained the services of William A. Adams and Paul McNeil according to a lobbyist disclosure report posted online yesterday by the San Diego city clerk's office.
The lobbyists are attempting to change the municipal code "to allow greater leeway re murals," according to their filing.
According to ArchitectureArt's website, the firm has been extending the creative envelope of the great outdoors.
In America, to earn one’s livelihood as an “artist” is a daunting task. Most artists are forced to find jobs outside of the arts, to support their artistic pursuit. ArchitectureArt was founded with the vision of creating a haven for Fine Artists to make their craft their career, while energizing the streetscape with our spectacular murals.
Until the 1970’s, hand-painted signs and murals were the norm in this country. But with the advent of large-format printing, and the quiet passing of a generation of venerated muralists, this skill set has become virtually extinct. We are proud to be reviving and preserving this unique art form, while contributing to the artistic and economic vitality of our cities.
Reached by phone this morning, ArchitectureArt's Pam Anderson said Adams was hired to convince the city to allow it proceed with a mural for Blue Moon beer, owned by Chicago-based MillerCoors, on the side of a downtown Market Street building where Bootlegger, a trendy bar, is located.
According to Anderson, the company's previous permission from the city to paint the mural was abruptly rescinded, leaving the project only partially completed.
Anderson notes that the mural contains no animation or video and argues that it is protected by the free speech provisions of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In any case, she maintains, it complies with the city's so-called on-premise sign restrictions because it is on the side of a building that houses a bar that serves Coors products.
As reported here last December, several of the nation's largest billboard companies, including Lamar Advertising and Capitol Outdoor, Inc., have retained local lobbyists to argue their case at city hall for so-called digital billboards.
Also among those who have expressed interest in putting up bigger and jazzier signs is U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester, whose plan last year to erect a giant video screen and electronic ticker tape display at the top of the newspaper's Misson Valley headquarters were resisted by then-mayor Jerry Sanders.
More like this:
- Billboard execs, Walmart continue pouring cash into mayoral race — Dec. 4, 2013
- Billboard cash attempts mayor's race influence — Sept. 23, 2013
- As Filner recall gathers, U-T San Diego owner bankrolls local GOP — Aug. 1, 2013
- Should San Diego dump its 30-year-old sign ordinance in portions of downtown to create an Arts and Entertainment District? — May 20, 2013
- San Diego super-lobbyists battle behind the scenes for video billboards — Dec. 24, 2012