Skyline-defiling signs targeted by council chief
By Bob Bauder
Published: Monday, July 22, 2013, 11:06 p.m.
Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris wants to stop Downtown building owners from erecting signs on top of their properties.
Harris said the signs, including company names and logos, clutter the city skyline and detract from its aesthetic splendor. The lifelong North Side resident proposed legislation that would prohibit signs erected 40 feet or higher on Downtown buildings.
Real estate brokers say the legislation is discriminatory and could hurt building marketability. But one developer said he understands Harris' concerns.
“I don't, as a developer, feel at all worried about having to conform to a reasonably crafted signage requirement that limits signs to something that doesn't disrupt the continuity of the visible landscape,” said Mark Minnerly, director of real estate development for Downtown-based Mosites Co.
Harris said signs are destroying the city skyline and do not mesh with historic city architecture.
“Architects did not intend their artful creations to be pylons for billboards,” she said. “This is the city's artwork. It shouldn't be a bunch of advertising.”
Existing signs would be grand-fathered under the legislation, which amends an ordinance. Council has scheduled a preliminary vote for Wednesday.
Jason Stewart, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm with 400 clients Downtown, said rooftop signs provide optimum exposure for companies in the Pittsburgh market.
“The allure won't be as great to relocate to another building and to reinvest in other space Downtown,” he said.
Jeffrey Ackerman, managing director of global real estate firm CBRE Inc.'s Downtown offices, said the legislation is discriminatory because existing signs would be permitted.
“Many real estate owners or occupiers of space would be opposed to it,” Ackerman said. “It's more of a fairness issue. You're not playing with a level playing field.”
Harris has been a proponent of limiting advertising in the city and co-sponsored legislation last year to tax billboards. The legislation, which passed, places a 10 percent levy on revenue generated by billboards.
Lamar Advertising, the largest advertiser in the city, responded by posting at least 12 billboards around the city that criticized Harris and her co-sponsor, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.
She said other cities, including New York, have enacted similar restrictions.
“Can you imagine a sign on top of the Empire State Building?” she asked. “I think it's time to draw the line.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Allegheny County District Attorney’s budget bump to fund employee pay raises
- Drug company buys Duquesne prof’s cancer research
- North Side market’s ‘good run’ comes to end
- Pittsburgh Foundation’s Wishbook features 48 nonprofits
- Newsmaker: Kacey Marra
- Afghanistan troubles remain, diplomat says
- Smaller transit service funds intact under new transportation plan
- Sandy Hook 911 calls fuel sensitivity debate
- Energy drinks, alcohol don’t mix, study finds
- Three given jail time for series of McKeesport arson fires
- Nation increasingly at odds over use of ‘God’