People obviously have a free speech right to hang signs on their properties, but the idea that this necessarily includes the right to erect a gigantic metal pole structure to hold the sign is ridiculous and wrong. Too many jurisdictions don’t draw this distinction, and they should.
We’re debating this in Philly right now and one good idea that deserves to be debated is whether we should allow only hand-painted billboards.
Basically everybody agrees that giant regular billboards and digital billboards are blight-tastic and awful, so this effort is all about how to de facto ban them without inviting an avalanche of litigation from the billboard industry.
If we banned everything except for hand-painted billboards, we would be on solid legal grounds. The power to regulate materials is pretty firmly established in US zoning law, as we see in so many historic districts across our state.
I’ve seen a lot of hand-painted billboards in NYC and they look pretty nice. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim has a hand-painted billboard space on the side of a building on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg that they rotate every couple months, and it looks great. It adds to the aesthetic of the neighborhood rather than blighting it.
Also, hand-painting a billboard is something only a human can do (for now) so with this regulation we’d be creating a nice privately-funded jobs program for the many unemployed artists in our city.