State Capitol News
3:57 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Illuminated Billboard Bill is Back

Last minute efforts are underway to craft a deal that would allow some new illuminated billboards but still protect the dark skies around observatories. 

The state court of appeals said last year the signs with their changing messages are illegal. And a bid by the companies to override that legislatively was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.

Representative Bob Robson, who sponsored the now-vetoed measure, said this is a compromise.

"It allows for the boards that are currently up to stay up," said Robson. "It shuts them off at a specific time as opposed to there's a few places that are different times. Now a specific time frame. What you find out from the astronomy community is they start basically their work at sunset. So this gives even more time without that encroachment of light."

It also makes certain areas of the state near observatories off limits to signs. But Mark Mayer of Scenic Arizona said he's not sure the industry has given up much of anything. He was specifically critical of what the industry wants in terms of brightness.

"They have their limits which are about four times as much as is necessary relative to ambient lighting and far more than the observatories have been willing to live with before," said Mayer.

Mayer also complained that the industry wants to preserve not only the 70 billboards it has largely in the Phoenix area but also have an opportunity to build even more.