KC's billboard law makes sense
The Kansas City Star
A billboard that sits off Interstate 29 near Missouri 45 in Kansas City’s Northland is in the way of a road project and needs to come down.
Based on a hard-gained 2006 city ordinance, the happy result should be one less billboard.
But City Council member Ed Ford and others now wrongly want to change the law.
They claim it could cost $300,000 to $500,000 to purchase the Northland billboard and tear it down. Billboards have that kind of value now, Ford said during a council meeting two weeks ago, because the current law essentially prohibits moving or erecting new billboards.
Ford wants to make it possible to relocate a company’s billboard as long as the company tears down a few other billboards in the city.
However, the City Plan Commission earlier this month recommended the council defeat Ford’s proposal, which is set for another hearing on Wednesday.
Ford challenged supporters of the law to tell the city where it could make other cuts in its budget to free up money to buy billboards.
Yet look at the facts: The city already has spent more than $1 million to buy a carwash, after condemnation, to make the Northland road project possible. But now city officials are balking at spending money and time to go through condemnation for the billboard, even though removing it would be less than 5 percent of the cost of the entire project.
The tough fact is that, yes, the current ordinance could make certain public works projects a little more costly. But it also is correctly aimed at reducing the overall number of billboards and improving the city’s quality of life.
The council passed the billboard ordinance after more than three years of an effort led by residents. Now those citizens have thrown out an interesting idea, asking the city to look into levying a tax on the annual gross receipts of billboards to provide funds to remove them.
That’s a far better idea to investigate than making the current law weaker.