The City’s Department of Buildings is fining property owners in Queens who have billboards painted on their buildings and are within sight of the highway. The department has targeted the owners of these two buildings, both of which have had billboards painted on them since the 1940s (though these ads are hardly World War II vintage–the owner of the building on the left’s family owns Amorelli Realty, the company advertising on the building at 24-62 32nd Street). The buildings department won a billboard case in 2010 which set a precedent for it to call for these kinds of ads to be removed. One owner was fined $50,000 which was later reduced to $20,000, the other was fined $20,000 which was later reduced to $800. The owners told the Daily News that the billboards should be grandfathered in because there has been advertising on these buildings for 70 years. The buildings department says that it can’t grandfather in such signs in a residential neighborhood. Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has jumped to the owners defense, telling the Daily News, “It’s a classic example of city bureaucracy run amok and using our citizens and businesses as ATMs.” What do you think? Should these ads be painted on buildings in residential neighborhoods? Is it part of Astoria’s charm or is it ruining its charm?
Photo: Google Maps