December 29, 2009 – By Jonathan Wilson
Four large billboards in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of D.C. have been removed, and city leaders are claiming a victory in a fight for city aesthetics.
The way D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles describes it: D.C. government went head to head with advertising giant Clear Channel…and won.
“We listened to the community, and these billboards are down!” Nickles shouted at a press conference in front of where the billboards once stood.
It wasn’t quite that easy.
The city engaged in months of legal wrangling over whether, by law, the billboards were too close to a residential area.
That question was never resolved.
Instead, Clear Channel agreed to take down the billboards in exchange for the possibility of more signage space on commercial properties downtown.
For Denise Prichard, who’s lived across the street from the billboards for years, the legal details are beside the point.
“We should not have billboards in residential neighborhoods — it should not go, rowhouse, rowhouse, rowhouse, billboard,” says Prichard.
City lawyers say they’re encouraging other D.C. residents to contact city hall about problematic billboards in their neighborhoods.