Scenic Snapshot: July 2023

In this month's Scenic Snapshot: $20 million in funding for scenic byways, La Mesa, California, fends off digital billboards, and an op/ed about the digital billboard battle being waged in Los Angeles. Also, a victory against a gigantic sign in Nevada, placemaking strategies from Ed McMahon, and the importance of wetlands as a scenic, environmenal, and ecological resource.

Senate Appropriations Committee Includes $20 Million for Scenic Byways in FY24

Full committee markup of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024 became available last Thursday. Included in this markup was $20 million for the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) as administered through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

La Mesa Fights Back Against Digital Billboards

On July 25, the City Council of La Mesa, California, took a significant stand against the installation of dual-sided digital billboards adjacent to Interstate 8 near the interchange with State Route 125. The proposed project by outdoor advertiser Clear Channel Outdoor faced strong opposition from councilmembers and the public alike, resulting in a three-to-two vote against proceeding with the plan.

Metro’s Billboard Plan is Wrong-Headed

Several months ago, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) proposed a new “Transportation Communication Network” (TCN) which envisions installing 97 new digital advertising billboards at 56 locations on Metro-owned properties across the city of Los Angeles. Because the TCN requires new city legislation, it is now coming in for public comment through the Planning Commission before heading to committees and the full City Council. This program, while it could raise funds for Metro operations, is misguided on several levels. It will leave the city uglier, less safe, and farther from its own clean-energy goals.


Tall Sign Rejected in Unanimous Decision

The Reno Planning Commission unanimously denied a request to build a 70-foot-tall sign facing U.S. 395 which is twice as tall as what the city permits. The public hearing June 8 included a request for a second 40-foot sign to face Sky Vista Parkway, which was also denied.

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The Secrets of Successful Communities – Part 1: Have a Vision for the Future

There are over 25,000 incorporated communities in America. How many of these are truly successful? How is it that some small towns and rust belt cities are prospering, while many others are suffering disinvestment, loss of identity, and even abandonment?

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The Secrets of Successful Communities – Part 2: Inventory Community Assets

Twenty-first century economic development focuses on what a community has, rather than what it doesn’t have. Too many cities and towns spend all their time and money on business recruitment. They build an industrial park out by the airport and then they try like crazy to attract a plant, factory or distribution center to move there. The few communities that are “successful” at this strategy usually accomplish it by giving away the store.

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The Importance of Wetlands

Wetlands are incredibly valuable natural ecosystems, offering significant environmental, social, and economic benefits. Despite their importance, they remain one of the most misunderstood and undervalued landscapes on Earth. A greater understanding of wetlands can illuminate the need for their protection and preservation—not only as key conservation areas, but also as vital parts of America’s scenic beauty and character.

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Scenic Tributes

  • In Memory of Dorothy Coonrod, by David Coonrod
  • In Honor of Margaret Lloyd, by Jonathan Day

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