Thursday, August 05, 2010

If They Thought Billboards Touched A Nerve…

I was amazed that elected officials were amazed at the number and ratio of emails they received opposing a change in the Durham billboard ban, prior to the Durham City Council taking a unanimous vote against a request by Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

Maybe some hadn’t fully grasped the results of a poll conducted to inform discussion by NANOPHRADES as part of DCVB’s annual survey. It clearly showed strong community support to retain the ordinance as is.Appearance

But if elected officials were surprised that element of community appearance touched a nerve, they should recall now how important overall appearance is to residents in scientific polls.

Thinking it superficial I suspect, local governments here have steadily cut back on beautification, litter removal and mowing and maintenance of medians, right-of-ways, roadways so much over the years, they’ve probably forgotten what “best practice” was.

And I understand some administrators had quite a chuckle at a proposal by one of their own results-based citizen groups to make clean-up and beautification an overarching strategy since it has been well proven to impact assessed valuation/revenues, crime reduction and prevention, public health, economic development, neighborhoods, code enforcement and several dozen other public responsibilities.

It must be tough to keep a finger on the pulse of a community. But everyone knows it takes much more than watching your inbox or counting noses at a public hearing.

Maybe the real legacy of this drawn out debate and drama but failed billboard issue will finally connect some dots that overall appearance issues are a top priority for Durham residents.

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