I’ve been talking it over with some locals for the past few days and the sentiment is unanimous: Nobody likes the free standing billboards that are popping up around town. One is in front of our historic LIRR station and I saw two on the boardwalk at Riverside and Long Beach Blvds. I am hearing there are more, I just don’t know where yet. I find these billboards to be a huge misstep by our city and that is why I am asking all local businesses to please not advertise on them. These billboards need to go away ASAP.
“They [billboards] destroy the esthetics of Long Beach.” That’s what a friend told me at Gentle Brew this morning. He is 100% right. In fact, not only are these billboards an insidious form of blight, but studies have shown how they have many negative effects on communities. Not just esthetically, but with the economy, degrading property values and on nature:
- Billboards Degrade the Natural Environment. “Billboards Divorce Us From Our Natural Heritage…Attractive communities and unspoiled scenic vistas are critical to our quality of life.” [scenic.org}
- Billboard Control is Good for Tourism. “Vermont took down its last billboard in 1975. From 1976-1978, tourism revenues increased by over 50 percent. According to Christopher Barbieri, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, “Although there was some initial sensitivity that removing billboards might hurt tourism, it has had the opposite effect. Tourism is up for all businesses large and small.” [scenic.org}
- Defending Public Space. “The visual landscape of the city belongs to everyone, not just the advertising companies who want to use it as a canvas for their commercial messages. “[banbillboardblight.org]
We now have a situation in Long Beach where every corner you turn you are faced with an advertisement. We have them with boardwalk banners, bus stops and on buses, but many of those have been with us for a while. The new garbage receptacles have advertisements. That’s a disappointment, but at least they serve some sort of purpose keeping our city clean and somehow ‘green’. These new free standing billboards serve no other purpose than to shove advertisements in our faces. It’s like that annoying popup ad that haunts you as you are trying to read an article on the internet. Long Beach is becoming one big giant popup ad.
To those who think these billboards will lower their property taxes: Please don’t visit my blog anymore because you are an idiot. They don’t and won’t lower property taxes. Whatever little revenue the city makes off them pretty much covers the cost of a pay check or two. If these billboards really make a major financial impact on our city, I will eat my hat.
Revenue aside, billboards should not be the way we portray our city to visitors. Especially since they provide no useful information, are tacky and scream “We in Long Beach are desperate for money!”
The LIRR station billboard takes up a space which should be used as a ‘Visitors Guide’ bulletin board. Complete with a city map, bus schedule,info on local events and where visitors can go eat, shop, play and spend money (hello, Chamber?). The best way to make this city some revenue is to keep those train folks in town as long as we can. Heck, they are coming here already, right? Let’s cash in on them. Show these visitors how they can get to the West End, encourage them to walk around town, eat at some local restaurants and visit our stores. That is how you stimulate a local economy. Staring at a billboard isn’t going to do it. And lets face it, how many are really looking at those things anyway?
I would consider the ‘nature’ impact to be the most alarming. Who wants to look at advertisements while they are enjoying our beautiful beach and boardwalk? Many come to the beach to escape such nonsense! That is why I decided to move here in the first place!
I don’t mean to be a troublemaker or a pot stirrer. I just care about this city so much and truly see these billboards as a huge disappointment and misstep that needs to be corrected. I really do believe this is a topic we can’t let go of. That is why I hope many of you local businesses agree and promise not to support these billboards. Please don’t turn our little city by the sea into the NY State Thruway, because that’s what it’s starting to look like (see photos below). Spread the word. Send a message to the city that these billboards need to be taken down now.