Posted May 7, 2013
Discovery Green Park in Downtown Houston is utilized by one million people annually. They listen to live music, watch movies, walk dogs and splash in water fountains. Civic leaders say it has helped change the city’s image and development in and around the Park is thriving. When proposed in 2004, the Park was met with considerable skepticism and was labeled a “big waste”, now it is a key part of the city’s sales pitch when seeking new businesses or large scale events like the the Super Bowl. Click here to read more.
Posted April 25, 2013
Click here to read how the billboard industry in Philadelphia has employed an all encompassing strategy to protect its assets from regulations that they feel threaten their bottom line. Well worth reading for the big picture and to understand why we need your support.
Posted April 17, 2013
Philadelphia is home to some of the most beautiful and unique parkland in the country: the Fairmount Park area and specifically Wissahickon Creek. This gorgeous natural landscape is accented by grand stone bridges, walls and staircases – many of which no longer serve a practical use, but still add character to the park. Unfortunately, in recent years these structures have fallen victim to vandals who have decided to mar the landscape with graffiti. These old structures not only contend with wear and tear from the elements, but are now covered in vandals’ “tags” and have transitioned from rustic landmarks to blatant eyesores. Luckily, local mural artist Zachary Bird of Smartwork Studio isn’t willing to stand for it. Using a technique called “faux painting”, Zack paints over top of the graffiti and makes the stone structures look as good as new. Much more visually appealing than the traditional white slab often painted over offensive tags, Zack is able to cover up spray paint, while blending his cover up with the color and texture of the surface he is painting on (see before and after pictures).
It’s ironic that Zack’s best work cannot be seen, as is the case with all faux painting – when done correctly, it can’t be detected. For now, his work has been limited to these relatively obscure stone structures in the park, but he has plans to make this a much bigger project. Zack states in his blog that he is in talks with Jane Golden of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the City to hopefully gain access to SEPTA and Con-rail bridges along the Schuylkill River and I-76. If he is able to get permission to do cover up faux paintings in these areas, his work will be seen by a much larger audience, and thus have a much greater impact on the visual state of Philadelphia.
By: Chris Croft – University of Pennsylvania Communications intern
Posted April 17, 2013
Spotlight: Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC)
Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC) is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) community development corporation founded in 1983. Their mission is to create and stimulate sustainable economic development through innovative and creative use of available resources while improving the quality of life for residents in West Oak Lane and other neighborhoods throughout the Northwest section of Philadelphia.
Recently, OARC embarked on a substantial community development project, working with the City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to acquire a nuisance nightclub which had been the scene of a lot of criminal activity. In addition to the presence of crime, there was also an unsightly billboard on the roof of the club. The property was a nuisance to the neighborhood, and the first thing people saw when they entered Philadelphia from Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County. In order to ameliorate the crime and blight issues, OARC successfully rehabilitated the building, and it now serves as their office. The pleasant, modern office building without a billboard constitutes a pleasing and welcoming gateway into Philadelphia. The rehabilitation of this specific property is part of a larger overall community development project, as it is directly across the street from a newly upgraded SEPTA depot.
Scenic Philadelphia makes it a point to commend organizations from around the city that are diligently working to advance healthy, vibrant and beautiful public spaces throughout all of Philadelphia. Way to go OARC!
By: Marcel Garon – University of Pennsylvania Civic House intern
The Rules Committee will hold a Public Hearing on this legislation
Bill 130109 on Thursday April 11th at Noon in Room 400 City Hall
The bill’s language is extremely open-ended and does not include any
safeguards for the quality of life of our neighborhoods. Action is needed
now to weigh in on this issue.
A coalition is forming to make sure that Philadelphia’s public spaces,
parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, libraries, and other municipal properties
and the neighborhoods are protected.
Please attend a meeting of community leaders and concerned residents
who will be working together to launch a new coalition that will lobby
City Council on this legislation.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
PACDC conference room
1315 Walnut Street, 1600
Philadelphia PA 19107
RSVP: Call Scenic Philadelphia 215-731-1796 or email email@example.com
Posted April 8, 2013
Hello Friends of Scenic Philadelphia, We are having a get together on April 11th at The American Sardine Bar in Philadelphia.
Where: The American Sardine Bar is located at 18th and Federal Streets. A convenient walk from center city and a 4 block walk from the Broad Street Line (Ellsworth stop)
When: April 11th, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Donation: $20.00 - Includes light fare & beer generously donated by American Sardine Bar and Kenzinger. There will be door prizes and drink specials for the Scenic supporters.
How: Get your tickets online , pay at the door or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215.731.1775
Callowhill and neighborhoods south of it, including Society Hill, had a narrow escape from the billboard district bill. Mayor Nutter vetoed the bill in January, and First District Councilman Mark Squilla, in an eleventh-hour move, decided not to ask City Council to override the veto. The bill (front page article in the Jan/Feb Reporter) would have allowed a seven-story digital advertising sign on the Electric Factory building, at 7th and Callow hill, owned by New York developer Myron Berman. Whether three court decisions (including the Pennsylvania and U.S. Supreme Courts) and two mayoral vetoes will finally squash Berman’s campaign to put a giant digital wall wrap on his building is anyone’s guess. However, we hope that we have heard the last of this matter. (Read the January 30, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer editorial for more information on this bill.)
Click here to read the full story!
New report exposes Philadelphia’s billboard scofflaws
PHILADELPHIA, February 20, 2013 Above the Law and Under the Radar: The Philadelphia Billboard Industry’s Failure to Comply with Local, State, and Federal Laws identifies over 100 billboards located along Philadelphia’s federal aid highways in violation of the Highway Beautification Act (HBA). This widespread failure to comply with the HBA is expected to trigger a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) audit and possible penalties which could cost the City millions of dollars in lost federal-aid highway funding unless the billboard structures and sign faces are brought into compliance.
The Report focused on billboards located within city limits along the I-95 and I-676 highways and several along I-76. In total, 183 billboard structures, supporting 331 sign faces located within 660 feet of these highways were analyzed for compliance. Research revealed that only 18 percent of the billboards in the study were in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations, and had valid permits
Hundreds of billboards in Philadelphia are located along Federal and Primary-Aid highways. This report is intended to help the City identify those billboards which should be removed due to their noncompliance due to the serious risk they pose for future loss of federal-aid highway funding.
Mary Tracy, executive director of Scenic Philadelphia said the timing of the report is perfect. “City Council is about to introduce legislation for outdoor advertising signs and hopefully they will use this data to take appropriate action.”
Sarah Richards, the author of Above the Law and Below the Radar is in her final year of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of City Planning program in the Graduate School of Design. She was the recipient of a Samuel F. Fels Summer Internship Research Grant.
Scenic Philadelphia promotes healthy, vibrant and beautiful public spaces in Philadelphia.
For more information email email@example.com.
Mount Laurel Billboard Ban Upheld by Federal Court
Jan Hefler, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
In a 14-page opinion released this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District in Philadelphia upheld Mount Laurel’s 2008 ban on billboards along the township’s stretches of I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike.
Interstate Outdoor Advertising L.P. appealed, saying the ordinance was unconstitutional because it limited free speech and was based on flawed traffic studies.
The court said that the town’s “conclusion that billboards affect traffic safety and aesthetics” was reasonable, and that municipalities have the right to regulate billboards.
Interstate Outdoor, a regional billboard company, had sought permission from the town’s zoning board to erect four billboards along I-295, a six-lane highway, the opinion said. Drew A. Katz, chief executive of Interstate Outdoor, also is a director of Interstate General Media, the company that owns The Inquirer. His father, Lewis Katz, a partner in Interstate General Media, is former chairman of Interstate Outdoor.
Interstate Outdoor presented an expert witness who testified that an analysis of accidents on I-295 revealed it was not a hazardous highway in Mount Laurel. But the court noted that it was possible the “precise reason the accident rate is so low” is the lack of billboards.
The ruling means Mount Laurel “will retain its existing ‘billboard-free’ ” character, said Christopher J. Norman, the township’s special counsel in the case. Only two small billboards appear within the town’s borders because they were erected before the ordinance was adopted.
Norman said “the opinion sets the law on regulating billboards” in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Louis L. D’Arminio, who represented Interstate Outdoor, did not return a call for comment.
The court agreed that the town’s ordinance limited Interstate’s speech but said that was overshadowed by regulatory interests. “Interstate alleges that the complete ban on billboard messages does not allow for alternative channels for communication . . . to the specific target audience of the drivers traveling on I-295,” the court wrote.
But there are many alternative ways to get the message out, including Internet advertising, direct mail, radio, newspapers, and television, the court said.
Digital Billboards a Challenge to Philadelphia’s Ability to Regulate Signs
Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer Architecture Critic
Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013, 9:14 AM
Dear Scenic Philadelphia Friends and Supporters,
Great news!! Philadelphia’s skyline is saved from the intrusion of a seven story digital advertising sign and our transportation projects will not be denied federal highway funding. Thankfully, Councilman Squilla did not call for an override of the Mayor’s veto Thursday, his last opportunity to do so. Your letter and phone calls to City Council made a critical difference and Scenic Philadelphia is extremely grateful to you for your active support. Thank you.
Many thanks to Mayor Nutter for his veto, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration for safeguarding Philadelphia’s scenic skyline and upholding the Federal Highway Beautification Act.
Blinking digital signs may still be a threat to some neighborhoods. City Council will be passing a new outdoor advertising sign code in the near future. Please stay tuned for further information.