Seattle cracks down on bogus billboards

by: David Ham Updated:


SEATTLE - All around downtown giant advertisements for iPhones, beer, travel and sportswear are plastered on the side of buildings.

The city of Seattle said a lot of the advertisers misled the city in getting approval for the signs.

"Billboards are typically signs that have something to with a product that's not sold in that building if it happens to be on the building," said City Council President Sally Clark. She added, "You have a lot of signs appearing throughout the city kind of masquerading as billboards."

She's drafted a new ordinance that would put tighter restrictions on these types of advertisements.

Right now many of the billboards are using a loophole to get the permits for the signs approved.

According to the city the signs have to advertise something on the building.

At Second and Stewart is a giant ad for Columbia Sportswear.

Inside a deli in the building, there were two Columbia jackets for sale as part of the rule.

The property manager said he is just operating within city rules and the property owner shares the profits from the advertising with the deli that sells the two jackets.

Other advertisers offer coupons or gift cards to connect the business to the sign.

Clark said under the new ordinance that would not be allowed.

An advertiser also wouldn't be allowed to put a kiosk for the product in the building for the advertising.

New signs would also be limited to 287 square feet.

Violators would also be charged$1,500 a day, up from $500 a day.

"I think it's kind of silly; advertising is advertising. You buy the space, you should be allowed to advertise wherever you want," said Kennedy Nelson, who has lived in Seattle all her life.

She added, "It never occurred to me that, oh, I'm going to go inside that place and find that product just because there was an advertisement for it on the outside."

"The fact is you own property, you own a building, but really we all operate within a set of rules we've all agreed to," said Clark.

The new ordinance would mean tighter restrictions for new signs.

The draft ordinance is expected to go before a council committee in December.