Letters to the Editor

Tacoma: Billboard battle is one worth fighting

Re: “Tacoma plans to begin enforcing old billboard law” (TNT, 12-2).

Tacoma’s decision to fight Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) for removal of billboards in our city is long overdue. Before people see dollar signs for the cost of a legal fight, consider this:

Clear Channel’s financial picture is glum, with parent company iHeartMedia being $20.6 billion in debt. Who’s responsible for maintaining, updating or, worse yet, removing its colossal signs should it go bankrupt?

Reuters notes in a Nov. 9 article that Clear Channel may be looking to divest assets, and its holdings in Seattle could be on the chopping block. Why does Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland think entering into a legal agreement with a bad business partner makes any sense?

CCO bought all the signs in Tacoma years ago knowing they would be illegal. City staff acknowledges uncertainty over whether billboard owners must be financially compensated under recent federal legislation should those billboards be restored to legal from illegal status, as they are now.

Just moving (not removing) a single sign cost Minneapolis taxpayers $4 million. We have more than 300 signs!

Trying to negotiate with Clear Channel is like wallowing in quicksand. The harder you try, the more you get sucked into its demands. I just wish Tacoma had not wasted the past five years coming to this conclusion.