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No digital billboards, but up to 225 standard signs to remain in Tacoma under deal

Traffic passes in front of a Click! billboard near the intersection of South L Street and Earnest S. Brazil Street in Tacoma on May 23, 2012. The Tacoma City Council approved a settlement agreement with advertising giant Lamar Tuesday, Dec., 12, that will regulate billboards within the city.
Traffic passes in front of a Click! billboard near the intersection of South L Street and Earnest S. Brazil Street in Tacoma on May 23, 2012. The Tacoma City Council approved a settlement agreement with advertising giant Lamar Tuesday, Dec., 12, that will regulate billboards within the city. News Tribune file photo

After a long saga and years of turmoil between the city, its residents and billboard owners, Tacoma has reached a settlement agreement with the company that owns most of the billboards in Tacoma.

The agreement, approved by the City Council on Tuesday, has been called a compromise, but some aren’t happy with the end result. The agreement will cap the number of billboards outdoor advertiser Lamar can have in the city at 225. The company had 294 inside Tacoma when the settlement agreement was announced in October, for a total reduction of 69.

The settlement also will limit where the signs can be placed.

They will be barred from residential, shoreline, conservation and historic districts, keeping the signage mainly to arterial streets in mixed-used and commercial districts. No billboards can be placed on rooftops under the new sign code.

As part of the agreement, Lamar has to remove 111 nonconforming billboard faces. As soon as they’ve removed 61, they can start replacing them with conforming billboards in areas where the signs will now be allowed. Billboards will also be able to be taller: 32 foot billboards will be allowed everywhere, and according to a city memo, billboards can be taller if they’re sufficiently far away from buffered areas, including parks, schools and historic properties.

Digital billboards will not be allowed, the city has reiterated.

Now that the agreement is signed, if in the future the City Council votes to amend its sign code in a way that would require Lamar to take down billboards, the city would have to pay the fair market value for each one that has to be removed. As long as the settlement agreement is in place, Lamar agrees to not sue the city.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud

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