The City Council saved five billboards from being torn down today. The billboard and signage issue dates back to the mid-1970's here in Lubbock and today, the debate reached a fever pitch yet again.
A billboard at 29th & Slide is one of those billboards that was in question up until this morning. But it won't be coming down, and neither will the four others in question. Some say that's good, we've taken down enough. But others say, there are still way too many.
Lubbock certainly has come a long way since this scene back in the 70's. Now, there are far fewer visual distractions.
Shirley Schleuse with Lamar Advertising says Lubbock now has less than half the billboards it had 30 years ago. "Over the last 30 years, there were 284 billboards in Lubbock. And we brought down 155," says Schleuse. She went before the City Council Thursday to fight for keeping five of Lamar's billboards that are in violation of zoning codes.
In the end, the council voted 6 to one to allow Lamar to keep those five billboards through a zoning change. Only councilman Tom Martin voted against the zoning change. So, the billboards will stay, but despite Thursday's decision and nearly three decades of debate, this likely won't be the last you'll here of this issue.
Former planning and zoning commissioner Mary Vines says saving billboards contradicts everything the signage ordinance was meant to stand for. Vines says she and others put a signage ordinance in place for a reason and keeping visual distractions around does not fit within the framework of the original mission.
Schleuse says Lamar advertising supports regulating signs, but feels the current number is neither a distraction, nor unsightly. And she lists a number of local advertisers who support them.
Lamar says it's also constantly enhancing the design, look, and structure of its billboards. Still though, this will be an issue in the future. Within the next five years, about 30 more billboards in Lubbock will either need to be brought up to code or torn down.