Last year, the Pocatello city council heard a proposal to add an electric billboard near one of its busiest intersections.
The possibility of the billboard got a lot of backlash from residents. Since then, it’s been a back and forth battle of how to handle billboards and other message boards in the city. This week, the city council met to propose changes to its current sign code and figure out next steps.
The council has four key points it wants to address with its changes. First, they want to measure the amount of light given off by electronic billboards in foot candles rather than in nits.
“It’s an easier measurement for everybody concerned, the equipment to do the measurement is cheaper and easier to use, and most of the sign companies use foot candle measurement,” said Melanie Gygli, planning and services director for the city of Pocatello. “So it’s an easier way to measure the amount of light a sign is putting out at any given distance and considering the ambient light.”
The second point is to consider a curfew on electronic billboards in residential and residential-commercial areas to help limit the amount of light given off for homeowners who are concerned about the lights being disruptive at night.
Third, the council is looking at down the line, requiring automatic dimmers on electronic billboards.
Finally, the council wants to standardize requirements for all types of billboards, including on-premise and off-premise signs.
“We’re trying to standardize it between both so that we don’t have any problems saying, ‘Well we’re holding one group to this standard and one group to another standard,;” Gygli said. “We’re trying to be as fair as possible.”
Gygli said the council has had public input and participation so far by reading comments and emails and other suggestions sent into the council, and some have even sat in on city council meetings.
The council will be doing some on-site testing with their proposed changes to see if the standards they are considering make sense.
A public hearing on the council’s final proposed changes will be held before any changes are sent to the council for final decision.
Gygli said the council hopes to have changes ready to be discussed with the public at their meeting on March 15.