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Council Approves New Sign Rules

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque city councilors late Monday reached agreement with the mayor over how to regulate electronic billboards and LED signs.

The council voted 7-2 in favor of an ordinance that establishes new standards for electronic signs citywide and bans their construction along some corridors, including parts of Coors Boulevard.

Deciding which parts of the city deserved extra protection as “view corridors” was the most-heated part of the debate. Ultimately, the council-approved bill bans construction of new electronic signs along Unser, Alameda, Griegos, Rio Grande and Tramway, in addition to parts of Coors.

Councilor Isaac Benton, the bill’s sponsor, said he wanted broader restrictions on where new signs could go, but he noted that the mayor had vetoed an earlier version of the ordinance.

It’s “still a good bill,” Benton said. “I’m glad we’ve got some protections for the West Side.”

Mayor Richard Berry said he intends to sign the bill.

“I commend the bipartisan work of the City Council to craft a sign ordinance that balances the needs of our community by including input from our neighborhoods, protecting our priceless views and meeting the needs of small business,” he said in a statement released by his office.

“It took a great deal of work and time, and one mayoral veto, but the council has ultimately crafted a bill that I will sign.”

Voting against the bill were Ken Sanchez and Rey Garduño.

Sanchez wanted to ban new electronic signs along the entirety of Coors.

“Once we’ve lost those view corridors, we can’t get them back,” he said. “I think it’s not a compromise” to protect only part of Coors.

Garduño said the council’s decision would create “a patchwork” of different rules along Coors.

Councilor Dan Lewis, who proposed the language on Coors, said it was a reasonable compromise based on city land-use documents that outline what areas deserve extra protection because they offer a good view. Even signs that are allowed, he said, will face regulation.

“Every LED sign will be changed by this bill,” Lewis said.

Benton said the public will be protected from distracting, quickly moving images on electronic signs.

“The type of signs that are going to be allowed are going to be greatly restricted,” he said.

For “off premise” signs, such as electronic billboards along major thoroughfares, the legislation limits their proliferation but doesn’t ban them altogether. Sign companies would have to take down three standard billboards for every new electronic billboard that’s built.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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