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CM Broadnax SEZ "Non-Conforming Billboards can stay up!"

by fredo
on 3/9/2012 @ 7:20pm

Citing the legal costs of enforcing the city ordinance city manager TC Broadnax is going to delay enforcement. Pretty sure this was predicted by Fredo in previous postings. We are going to need a $50K study to find out why the council has an inability to direct the fuctioning of our city.

by Non Sequitur on 3/9/2012 @ 7:22pm
I'm predicting that antics like this will lead to the shortest time ever held by a city manager.

First we had Eric "Raze n Pave" Anderson.
Now it's "Billboard Broadnax".

by fredo on 3/9/2012 @ 7:32pm
$50K for consultants to study gangbangers, $50K for consultants to tell us we don't do our Amber Alerts properly, $50K to tell people how to use parking meters, $50K to find out if improving the Tacoma Dome would make it more useful.

Funding for code enforcement? Oh we don't have that.

by NineInchNachos on 3/9/2012 @ 8:34pm
Citizens Auxiliary Code Enforcement!  
where do we get one of those demolition claw thingies ?

by fredo on 3/9/2012 @ 8:43pm

good question RR. If you or I or some business in town without lots of legal resources tried to leave a non-conforming structure on our property we would be cited right away. But because Clear Channel has lots of attorneys Broadnax has decided they can just go ahead and keep their non conformings. The message is clear. The city doesn't have faith in it's own decisions. Sad

by NineInchNachos on 3/9/2012 @ 8:54pm
Corporations are people--People with special 'above the law' status.  

Welcome to the resistance!

by Jesse on 3/9/2012 @ 9:38pm
Tacoma billboard fight... serving you since 1988.

When is someone with power going to have the balls to do something real about this?

by ixia on 3/10/2012 @ 8:05am
How can the city manager decide which laws are to be
enforced and which ones not? That opens up immense potential for corruption. Any company (with plenty bucks) can buy its way out of regulation? This must have past Pauli’s desk. Can she possibly be okay with unequal before the law?

by KevinFreitas on 3/10/2012 @ 8:39am
For context, here's the article in The News Tribune with the details: Nice try to put this out there quietly by the City releasing this on a Friday. Common political media tactic that won't work. We won't forget and will make sure Broadnax is given the context of 95% of Tacoman's who thought these blighted billboards should come down. It's not his choice, it's Tacoma's laws. No one company or industry should get a pass on complying with our laws because of budget concerns.

As of now I officially volunteer my time for billboard code enforcement. Whether the city wants to train me or not these things are coming down.

by NineInchNachos on 3/10/2012 @ 8:54am
Ok so I was thinking myself to sleep about the effect of high-powered sniper riffles on these Giant Television screens,  Cross-bows,  liquid tagro shape-charge explosives.... brute force pulling down billboards with a truck and tow cable..  BUT, What good would that do?  These billboards are probably insured...  If Clear Channel says they're really worth 75 mil, it would probably only turn them a profit AND they'd get a new digital in place of the crappy rusty billboard.  PLUS you'd be a criminal and the system would take out of the equation.  No the way to crack this nut is an organized community resistance.  Clear Channel advertisers need it drilled into them that advertising on these billboards is so toxic to their company's brand they can't afford the risk.   we need to make it so that no business in their right mind would advertise on em. YOU can help!  Take pictures!  Post online!  Hijack their search engine results!  here is an example Email business owners! Call existing advertisers out!  Post results online for discussion. REWARD business that pledge to advertise on Pierce Transit instead.  How long can Clear Channel exist displaying PSA messages?  Let's find out!  

by fredo on 3/10/2012 @ 9:06am
  "Councilman Marty Campbell said Friday that the council was briefed on Broadnax’s decision earlier this week." 


The city manager is an at-will employee serving in a support role for the city council. The manager doesn't make policy for the city.

Read more here:

by fredo on 3/10/2012 @ 9:11am
Why don't we have a statement from Anders Ibsen?  

He's the newest elected council member and his platform called for enforcement of the city sign code. This suggests that, as of November 2011, the majority of Tacomans want the non-conformings DOWN.

by NineInchNachos on 3/10/2012 @ 9:17am
"Clear Channel’s corporate head quarters is located in San Antonio Texas , what  city did the current city  manager  come from?"

by fredo on 3/10/2012 @ 9:24am

Kevin, how come my account settings show one image for an avatar and the comments display a different image? How is that even possible?

by Erik on 3/10/2012 @ 9:51am
An extremely bad develpment. A poor choice in priorities and the message it send about Tacoma's unwillingness to enfoce it's laws.Does this mean that all one needs to do to oppose Tacoma's efforts to clean up blight is to posture a bit and the city will just igonore it's own enforcement laws?The hand wringing on the part of the city is what got us in this nearly exact spot a few years ago.Turning off the fine counter is going to remove any of the incentive for CC to comply just as having no parking enforcement would encourage people to park their cars for days at a time downtown.

by fredo on 3/10/2012 @ 10:27am

Think I'll put a billboard on top of my building. The city has already said they aren't going to enforce the billboard laws so who gives a F?

by Jesse on 3/10/2012 @ 10:44am
They should have announced that since the billboards are illegal, there will be no graffiti or vandalism laws enforced on them.

Also, the city should be cutting power to these billboards.

Why are the city officials such wimpy push-overs?

by NineInchNachos on 3/10/2012 @ 10:58am
cutting power is a good idea.   Also declare an 'open season' on billboard remixing on the tacoma art list serve.   Build your billboard fredo! I'll help you populate it with superior graphic design! 

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/10/2012 @ 12:07pm
Perhaps it's best to declare a blog/comics/poster/protest/facebook "open season" on Broadnax.

I'm convinced that the strong public disapproval of Anderson cost him his job. Broadmax is too new for us to demand his termination. The billboard decision is setting dangerous precedent, so I think it's best that we all make enough of a ruckus that the new kid in town knows that kowtowing to ClearChannel is a deadly sin in this town.

by JesseHillFan on 3/10/2012 @ 2:28pm
Here is what should be done.Have the city make a new deal with CC allowing those standard billboards if the metal supporting beams and surrounding frame are made out of either bronze or copper.The claim could be made that the purpose is so they will look better and be more classy.This is just a ruse.If that deal goes through then the metal recycling thieves will take down those signs later on.Allocate no police resources for this theft.

by Maria on 3/11/2012 @ 12:21am
I'm very dismayed about this. It almost spoiled my appetite at breakfast to read that the city decided not to pursue enforcement of the law. 


Did the city come to a premature "agreement" a while ago re: the digital billboard trade-off? If yes, what were they thinking? I'm also wondering, why was there not more public comment before this agreement was negotiated?

So correct me if I'm wrong, but, the city in good faith made a deal with Clear Channel (the News Tribune terms it a "settlement agreement"), then due to community pressure backtracked. This has landed the city in court because our only recourse is to ask a judge to invalidate the agreement.

It's like we're trying to annul hasty wedding vows, I guess.

This "digital billboards in exchange for conventional billboard removal" deal seems to have screwed up the momentum to clean up the city's skylines.

I'm 100% for less sky pollution, but wow, when a government body enters into an agreement, it's not easy to renege. I can see this is going to be a difficult and costly fight.

Since money is short for firefighters, potholes, schools and arts groups, perhaps this is a prudent form of action, though it's DISTASTEFUL. It's just that it puts the city in a bad light to allow blatant law-breakers to continue to violate city ordinances when the city is enforcing other statutes against smaller business owners and humble citizens.

Perhaps the city manager is thinking it would be better to wait until we can fully fund the legal battle before pressing the matter, since we don't want to lose this argument in court. Losing in court due to not having adequate evidence, arguments and preparation would further hinder efforts to clean up blight.

I think Ryan is right that perhaps the only recourse is to contact local businesses and let them know this company is flaunting their non-compliance with city law in our faces.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/11/2012 @ 9:41am

 When are you people leaving for New York to dismantle Times Square?

by boearc on 3/11/2012 @ 10:46am
Erik, the decision to not enforce removal does not mean the same thing as allowing blight carte blanche. The Code Enforcement for blighted structures is still an ongoing city priority (like it is for all structures and property - non-conforming or not). What I heard loud and clear during the process - at Planning Commission and City Council - was at a MINIMUM keep the status quo on number and locations, makes sure blighted billboards are maintained to the code minimum requirements, have a good code for triggers of the removal of non-conforming billboards that are safety or structure hazards, and do not allow digital at the scale of billboards.  That is the minimum - and that is what we have - with some billboards being removed due these specific code enforcement language that the City has had in other portions of the regulatory code. 

by Maria on 3/11/2012 @ 11:45am
The more I've thought about this, the more I'm thinking this is a necessary move, the way sailors sometimes abandon cargo to save a ship in a storm. Tabling this expense until next year might not be optional--city finances are in a state where a protracted lawsuit could cause great harm.

Municipalities across the nation are falling into bankruptcy and state-control due to financial crisis. I guess governments are affected by recessions later than families, so we're just starting to see some of the worst of impact.

Grim NYT article:

by fredo on 3/11/2012 @ 12:26pm
Maria, that link was broken for me.

Yes municipalities are falling into bankruptcy due to the financial crisis, but we've been in a recession since about September of 2007. That's almost 5 years. The intelligently run cities have figured out how to provide basic services and basic code enforcement in a cost effective way. The city of Tacoma is required to provide these services in a cost effective way. Its described in the city mission statement. However, the council has pissed away thousands and millions of dollars on unneccessary pet projects and unearned raises for city employees, so to blame our predicament on the recession is really missing the point. If we are going to wait to enforce the sign codes until we're in another boom economy where everyone has plenty of money we are going to be waiting for a long time indeed. 

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/11/2012 @ 12:46pm

The NYTimes is a liberal rag.

by Maria on 3/11/2012 @ 3:32pm
Fredo, that article does agree it's going to be a while even after the
economy improves before cities see progress, because they are behind the
crest of the worst/best of economic cycles. However, we can be an
exception to that "rule." :)

Here's the link again. Sorry, my iPhone was not cooperating with links and input boxes this morning.

Basically similar stuff that's happening here in Tacoma (cuts to safety services, roads, schools, clinics, parks) except some counties and cities are even further underwater.

Nassau County, is already so troubled that a state oversight board seized control of its finances last year.

Stockton, Calif., a city of almost 300,000, is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

Jefferson County, Ala., made the biggest Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing in history in November and stopped paying its bondholders. In Rhode Island, the city of Central Falls declared bankruptcy last year, and the mayor of Providence, the state capital, has said his city is at risk as its money runs out.

“We don’t want to become Erie County or Nassau County,” he said, referring to two counties whose finances are overseen by control boards. “I think you’ll see a dropping off of the programs that many counties now view as important — law enforcement, economic development, parks and recreation. Those kinds of programs will disappear. Counties will
become welfare and Medicaid managers.”


Mofo, the NYT is not a liberal rag. It's one of America's finest newspapers and invests considerable time, intelligence and money in reporting important news stories. Some of their stories lean toward the liberal side and some lean toward conservatives. Both sides of the political spectrum criticize the NYT as leaning too far in the opposite direction, so to me that means they're probably doing something right.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/12/2012 @ 1:31am
Oh, okay. How about the NYTimes is conservative in regards to economic issues and liberal in regards to social issues? It serves the corporate agenda of its capitalist advertisers/supporters AND it promotes the social agenda of its historical revisionist/progressive staff op-ed writers. It's like the business and political agenda of the Tacoma City Council and its local media tools---cosmopolitan.

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/12/2012 @ 5:27am
"The intelligently run cities..."

Ha! Oh man, I needed a good laugh.
There are no intelligently-run governments in this country. Maybe in Fredopia there are, but not IRL.

Soon, we'll really start to see municipalities and counties default. It'll start this year and accelerate in 2013. Watch for it.
And then the real fireworks begin when a big state like CA defaults. Uncle Sam HAS to let a state default. If they don't, then by precedent the Federal Gov't has to bail out ALL 50.

Add this to the sovereign debt issues around the globe, and wow. Greece is already in default. Soon Portugal, Spain and Italy. All the PIIGS are in trouble. The next few years are going to get real interesting...

by fredo on 3/12/2012 @ 7:42am
If it's OK with everyone else I'd like to return this discussion to the subject at hand. The subject is billboard sign enforcement.

We can't afford to have people out enforceing the sign code apparently. How about we take the staff of people who enforces parking in the city and give them a new title and new job responsibilities. The new job is "Parking and Billboard Enforcement." One day each week they stop looking for illegally placed cars and look instead for illegally placed billboards. This wouldn't cost the city any extra money ISTM. 

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 9:18am
This is less about paying staff to drive around issuing tickets and more about paying a top-tier law firm capable of defending the city in a massive legal challenge from a well-funded corporate bully. As soon as the first fine is issued, it triggers a lawsuit we cannot afford to properly defend...And if we lose the fight, our entire code could be nailed, meaning we could have those huge digitals all over our neighborhoods as per the settlement agreement (Oh why did they ever sign that damn agreement?!?!)...Therefore our enforcement date now gets pushed back seven-eight-ten months...sigh.
I can see why the city decided this, I'm not happy, but as long as we don't have digitals I see this as a fairly minor hiccup right now...
Ask again in another few months though, because we CAN start complaining about the blighted billboards, and fines can be issued in those regards, plus if some of those structures get anymore rusty they will fall on someone and the city should step in at that point.

Clear Channels leases are going to come  up, the amount they pay on these leases will increase, and as ad revenue continues to deversify away from giant outdoor static print media, the billboards will all come down eventually...The key is to prevent new ones and slowly chip away at the number of existing illegal billboards.

It does suck waiting though, we have given these scofflaws enough time already. And my being understanding does not mean I agree or like the situation...I want Clear Channel gone ASAP.

by fredo on 3/12/2012 @ 9:36am
  Britton, if this is going to wind up in court eventually, (and you seem to suggest that), then why not just go ahead and issue the enforcements and let the matter go before a judge? We have at least a 50% of winning in court. By not enforcing the sign law we have a 0% of winning. I think 50% is better than 0%.

If the judge decides our zoning laws for billboards are incorrect then we will be no worse off then we are today. Agreed?I don't see any need or advantage to hiring a top law firm. We have a city attorney and she has staffing. If we need to call in a few top legal people for a couple of weeks to get our attorney up to speed, so what? If our law is so out of whack that it can only be defended by the top lawyers in the US then our law probably isn't as good as we think it is.

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 10:38am
Because the team that reps Tacoma is the same firm that drafted the settlement agreement, honestly, they probably are not really the firm we want defending ourselves from the major corporate lawyers CCO has bought...We have to get a firm with some experience, and they don't come cheap...Plus we probably botched some of our best defenses already, which might result in having to pay CC for "taking " their property. As you know the "right" side does not automatically win in court. A loss here could screw us big-time. I'm not a lawyer, but that's my base understanding of the situation...

It is in our best interest to have the City Manager ultimately assign a new firm, but forget that with the budget being what it is. We don't want the Tacoma Rainiers playing the Yankees in the playoffs, you dig?

"If the judge decides our zoning laws for billboards are incorrect then we will be no worse off then we are today."No we'd be worse. We could potentially have to pay "fair-market value (as determined by CC was in the 75 million range) or we'd be forced to accept the craptacular settlement agreement. Much worse. Currently we have the status-quo with the upside of CC not being able to add-on anywhere. It's at zero.
0% chance of winning is better than a 50% chance of losing. 
Again, this sucks, Marty's e-mail seems to recognize his frustrations too, but like a risky surgery, we need to be very conservative if we want the best chance of having the patient survive. Sometimes you have to put off that Gall Bladder surgery in order to get cardiac does suck though.

by fredo on 3/12/2012 @ 10:42am

The reason we have this multi-million dollar "risk" is because the city council, all 9 members, rushed to sign a "settlement" agreement with no opportunity for public input. Why the citizens didn't immediately circulate petitions to recall all of them from office is beyond me. That was probably the stupidest action the council has taken (Anders Ibsen not responsible for this).

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 10:43am
"...then our law probably isn't as good as we think it is."

Not as good as the lawyers  and laws that money can buy. That's the reality of corporate personhood and our legal system...Sad but very much true. Justice does not exist in the justice system and never has. I'm sure any lawyer would tell you that.

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 10:46am
As for the settlement Agreement...Yes. But throwing all nine who signed out wouldn't magically null that stupid agreement.
At least they listened later on...except Joe Lonergan who defended the private negotion and did not support the new code either.
(Did Boe and Mello sign the original SA? or was that before they actually took office? I'll have to re-check that fact)

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 10:57am
And really quick - stategy -wise anything we do to drag our feet on allowing digitals hurts CC Outdoor. Their business is rapidly changing and they won't want the old billboards for much longer. It's a siege. If we out-wait them, they will eventually die on their own...However if we ever dangle money or Digitals in their face they will take it, rip our arms out of our sockets and club us with our own bodies.Patience will save us in the end here. Until then if we hassle them about structural and blight complaints they may just decide our crappy town isn't any good anymore and cut their losses...Then we win.
Or...We wait until the city's budget improves to the point where they are ready to get aggressive and then hire some sharks to rep us. Then we win in court and they leave.
We will win, just not quickly. If we rush now we will probably lose.

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 11:01am
BTW...Mitt Romney =Bain Capital=Clear Channel=Clear Channel Outdoor=Rush Limbaugh...just saying...The more advertisers that leave Rush/Clear Channel the better we do...The non-profits are filling up ad space on the radio and on Tacoma's billboards. Nobody is paying CC for advertising anymore. The longterm outlook for that business is in serious decline...

by cisserosmiley on 3/12/2012 @ 11:04am
Oh Tacoma

by Maria on 3/12/2012 @ 11:25am
Also we don't have a 50% chance of winning, anymore than the Foss High School team has a 50% chance of beating the Rainiers. This isn't a coin toss with equal weight and factors on both sides.

I believe we can win (and other municipalities have won billboard-restricting battles in court), but we'd be lying to ourselves if we think it'll be easy.

I'm guessing that after looking at the city's financials, Broadnax decided this is a time to triage the city budget and put important but non-essential major expenses further down the road.

by CaptainBritton on 3/12/2012 @ 11:29am
Agree...Though there is some sadness in saying that. And some rage.  50% or more rage...:)

by NineInchNachos on 3/12/2012 @ 11:41am
money talks, justice naps.  Lady Justice is not dead.  Just asleep in glass coffin. 

by Maria on 3/12/2012 @ 11:43am
Don't kiss her until you have money to buy a nice ring!!!

by Erik on 3/12/2012 @ 11:48am
Removing the billboard blight in Tacoma should be one of the highest priorities of the city, not the last.I wonder what would happen if the Prosecutors Office decided not to pursue criminal cases if the defendant's attorney threatened to "litigate" the matter in court.

The priorities of Tacomans against blightful non-conforming billboards was shown very clearly again and again and again by the continuous effort of citizens, neighborhood groups and 95 percent of Tacomans who weighed in on the matter.

The City of Tacoma had their attorney(s) of choice draft the billboard ordinance just last year.  Now it is time for the same attorney(s) to defend it.

by NineInchNachos on 3/12/2012 @ 12:06pm

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/12/2012 @ 12:22pm
Lets just take them over ourselves.
Free giant canvasses to all!

by KevinFreitas on 3/12/2012 @ 12:41pm
@RR Should tag that group of photos with the people who took them. It's a great gallery everyone should see!

by NineInchNachos on 3/12/2012 @ 12:53pm
good call kevin!  I think I gott em all now.

by KevinFreitas on 3/12/2012 @ 4:53pm
Watch for another installment of "Hey Clear Channel, Clean Up Your Crap!" tomorrow!

by Non Sequitur on 3/12/2012 @ 7:47pm
Raze 'n pave part deux

by Marty on 3/12/2012 @ 7:56pm
@ kevin

Thanks for the photos. Please be certain to send to Tacoma Cares. Please include address and the # on the billboard. 

They have received few reports and posting to the blog is not an official report.
or 253-591-5001

by Jake on 3/12/2012 @ 10:16pm
Marsha Moody Google Page

Nice picture!

by NineInchNachos on 3/12/2012 @ 10:41pm

by jenyum on 3/13/2012 @ 10:59am
An image search for Marsha Moody has good results, too.

by jenyum on 3/13/2012 @ 10:59am
An image search for Marsha Moody has good results, too.

by NineInchNachos on 3/13/2012 @ 11:03am
same deal with image search for olivia lippens