San Jose lifts billboard ban

Residents will be seeing a change to the skylines in the city they call home


Daniel Zaring

A billboard located in South San Jose

Daniel Zaring, Times Staff

The City Council of San Jose voted in favor of a plan that will allow billboards to be constructed and placed on city owned properties in a meeting on September 25. It also has decided to move ahead on a plan to allow new billboards on private properties.

Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas expressed her support of the change to Title 23, otherwise known as The Sign Ordinance.

“On Tuesday, my fellow council members and I took a big step forward to enliven San Jose’s downtown, reduce blight in residential neighborhoods, and raise revenue for the city without raising taxes,” Arenas wrote.

In 1972, San Jose passed one ordinance banning billboards located on city owned properties. Another ordinance was then passed in 1985 that would prohibit any new billboards from being constructed within the city.

Documents say that San Jose is expected to generate “additional revenue for signs constructed on city properties”. Relaxing the signage restrictions on private properties could potentially increase intercity commerce.

“This step also has the potential to increase signage options for faith communities like the ones I represent in Evergreen. I look forward to exploring this potential benefit as part of the phase two,” Arenas wrote.

However, some city officials are concerned that the addition of these large advertising devices could have an undesired effect on the city. Communications director and senior adviser to the mayor, David Low, said in an email that the mayor opposed the original proposal, but decided to adopt a variation of it.

“Ultimately, the council adopted a variation of the proposal on a 9 to 2 vote, with the mayor opposing the proposal on the grounds that it would lead to a much faster/expansion of signage than he thought was prudent,” Low wrote.

There are also residents who are not keen on the idea of more billboards occupying space in the city.

“There is already too much clutter and most of the billboards never get changed out or even have anything on them,” said lifelong San Jose resident Carlos Cortez, “some remain covered in graffiti or torn up due to a lack of maintenance.”