FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2005
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION REDUCING PROLIFERATION OF ILLEGAL SIGNS
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
"The last bill before me is Introductory Number 423-A, sponsored by Council Members Katz, Liu, Nelson and Perkins. This bill establishes a realistic regulatory structure for addressing the proliferation of illegal outdoor advertising along the City's arterial highways and parks.
"The City's economic growth over the last decade has resulted in an increase in the number of billboards and advertising signs we see throughout the City, particularly along highways. Unfortunately, there has also been a proliferation of illegal outdoor signs that violate the City's zoning regulations governing location, size, projection and height. These regulations exist to minimize the aesthetic harm to New Yorkers' sensibilities and to ensure that we do not jeopardize federal highway funding.
"In 2001, the City adopted legislation attempting to address the proliferation of illegal outdoor advertising. Local Law 14 of 2001 was heralded by many as a breakthrough in the City's efforts to regulate illegal outdoor advertising. While this legislation certainly ushered in important reforms such as subjecting outdoor advertising companies (OAC's) to registration with the Department of Buildings and providing the Department with additional enforcement tools, its principal component, the Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP), proved unrealistic and ineffective.
"The VCP provision of Local Law 14 provided OAC's with a mechanism to voluntarily remove their illegal signs according to a specific schedule over a three-year period in exchange for three-year amnesty from most enforcement, as long as they adhered to the takedown schedule. The VCP was designed to create incentives for compliance while saving the City the expense of a massive, resource-intensive enforcement campaign.
"The Buildings Department believed the VCP would be effective in removing signs from the City's highways, but during the rule making process it became clear that implementing Local Law 14, was unrealistic. The Buildings Department learned that the VCP was scorned by the industry and proved ineffective for many reasons, including that many OAC's ignored the VCP -- removing illegal advertising copy at the time of registration and then re-installing it.
"Intro. 423-A addresses the shortcomings of Local Law 14 by eliminating the VCP entirely, and narrowing, the scope of the OAC-controlled signs the Department regulates to areas proximate to highways and parks. This will streamline the Department's enforcement and allow the Department to better implement the controls. Finally, Intro. 423-A adjusts the grounds for revoking, suspending, or refusing to renew an OAC's registration, revises the definition of an OAC to more accurately capture OAC's and their related entities, and provides the Buildings Department with the discretion to implement a maintenance permit, which would serve to capture accessory signs that may convert to illegal advertising copy.
"Signing Intro. 423-A into law will enable the City to address illegal signage and the visual blight they cause, and will also ensure that New York continues to receive hundreds of millions of federal highway dollars for complying with federal controls on advertising signs in proximity to arterial highways.
"I would like to thank the Department of Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster and the Department of City Planning Chair Amanda Burden and their staffs for their hard work and commitment to this issue. I would also like to thank the City Council for moving this bill through the legislative process."
Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958