Last Friday’s collapse of a billboard onto the BQE in Greenpoint prompts the Times to examine the legal gray area many of the structures occupy. Even though billboards have been illegal within 200 feet of highways since 1940 and the city started cracking down on many of the ones that do exist next to highways a couple years ago, they’re still legal if they advertise a business that’s at their base or a “noncommercial” nonprofit/charity. The billboard that fell was advertising the lottery on one side—but Dunkin’ Donuts on the other—and its owner says it was legal since the lottery is a noncommercial entity. A spokesman for the DOB says the billboard’s owner is getting citations for not properly maintaining the structure and for having the Dunkin’ ad on one side. The DOB also says it’s going to inspect other billboards near highways to try to make sure that they’re structurally sound. Meanwhile, Councilman Stephen Levin, who lives near the collapsed billboard, is quoted as saying that the city should be looking to get some billboards taken down “if some of these signs are getting in under permits that may be fraudulent.” The most interesting tidbit in the story, though, is how much money the billboards bring in for their owners: The lottery was paying $12,923 a month for the ad on the one that collapsed.
Collapse Casts Light on the Murky World of Billboards [NY Times]
Photo by Aviator Rob