A proposed digital billboard overlooking Highway 41 between Herndon and Friant avenues rests in the hands of the Fresno City Council this Thursday.

And the council’s decision could reap the city an extra $3 million over 25 years.

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But, there is a hangup over how high the billboard stands.

The message from the billboard company — anything less than 86 feet — “would not be marketable.”

The problem is that city code limits billboards to 60 feet. If Outfront Media wants to move forward with the project, it needs a waiver (called a variance) from the city. While the Planning Commission granted the variance on Oct. 2, the councilman for the area — Garry Bredefeld — appealed the decision.

The billboard would be placed on a plot of city-owned land on Howard Street, next to Highway 41. Medical offices, including the Kaiser Permanente hospital, and a hotel, surround the ara.

Trees, Cell Towers in the Way

In documents to the city, Outfront said a higher sign is needed because things like telecommunication towers and trees would be in the way.

“The injury of this variance denial is substantial,” an Outfront representative wrote to the Planning Commission.

City staff determined that such obstacles only obstruct a 60-foot sign by 2%. Outfront countered that even such a blockage would reduce revenues by 50%, “endangering the economic feasibility of the sign project.”

Outfront also says the variance should be approved by the council, noting a similar digital billboard by the Manchester Center, on Shields Avenue overlooking Highway 41, is 85 feet tall. Outfront calculates it would earn $9.3 million over 25 years with a 60-foot billboard; an 86-foot billboard over 25 years would generate $18.6 million.

The city’s share of the billboard rent and revenue with a 60-foot sign would be $3.5 million over 25 years; an 86-foot sign would yield $6.5 million in the same time frame.

Bredefeld, Hotel Object

“This will be a source of blight to raise it to 86 feet.”Councilman Garry Bredefeld

The neighboring Hyatt Place Fresno hotel objected during the Planning Commission meeting. Representatives expressed concern that the sign might be too bright for its guests.

Bredefeld filed an appeal, saying that the variance does not meet municipal code standards.

“This will be a source of blight to raise it to 86 feet,” Bredefeld told GV Wire. “I’m confident if an 86-foot billboard went up, people will be unhappy.”

The full council is scheduled to hear the item on Thursday at 10:10 a.m.

“I am supportive of any business. But, you have to balance that with these billboards being so large. Many people feel it would become visual blight. My job is to find that balance,” Bredefeld said.

3 Responses

  1. David Robertson

    All billboards are a visual blight!
    Look at Blackstone Ave. Its an embarrassment to this City.

    Its interesting that the City is ok approving a sign when it fills their wallet even when its outside their own ordinance!

  2. Karl Diaz

    So Bredefeld is rejecting income that may be relatively annoying to a few people. These same people probably don’t mind the urban sprawl that is taking place up the road in the foot hills which stresses out our water needs even further. If the extra feet can knock off a few bucks off my garbage or water bill or help sustain jobs, then where is the argument?

  3. Andy

    It makes no sense whether a billboard is 86 ft. or 60 ft. The cell tower is also a blight is it not. I mean I’ve never seen a gorgeous cell tower. The fact that it would be an LED digital billboard means it would be extremely visible at any height. Let’s keep it at 60 ft. to limit the effects of its ambient light to industrial areas like the Blackstone Ave. billboard.


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