October 17, 2004
There are only three billboards in Scottsdale and, as the city has ramped up a campaign against all kinds of signs, soon there will be just one.
On Oct. 5 the City Council approved buying one of the billboards, perched above a liquor store at 8046 E. Thomas Road, for $45,000 in order to tear it down.
Another is at Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse, 23023 N. Scottsdale Road; the land on which the theme park sits was sold to a developer in June.
That leaves a billboard in the 7600 block of East McDowell Road that towers above surrounding buildings. It is owned by Clear Channel Communications.
Scottsdale contacted the San Antonio-based media giant to inquire about purchasing it, but Clear Channel was not inclined to sell.
"We’ve had one conversation," said Rob Miller, Scottsdale’s citizen liaison. "They didn’t say they were or weren’t (interested in selling to the city) but they have a permanent source of income from it."
The Clear Channel billboard has been in place for 45 years and, Miller said, was probably once part of another piece of property. The lot the billboard is on is too small for any other type of development; it does not even have an address.
In the 1960s, the City Council approved an ordinance banning billboards in Scottsdale. The three remaining were all built before the ordinance and were allowed to remain.
Mayor Mary Manross said at the Oct. 5 meeting that it was worth spending $45,000 to remove an eyesore. The purchase was on the consent agenda, and was approved unanimously with a variety of other items.
"I thought $45,000 was a lot but I wasn’t willing to fight that battle. I have other battles I want to fight," Councilman Bob Littlefield said.
Littlefield said that if Scottsdale voters were asked if they support the sign ban, the measure would likely pass by a landslide.
Councilman Ron McCullagh is following through on a campaign promise to push to ban political signs from Scottsdale’s rights-of-way.
As for billboards, Miller said he does not know of any other cities that have taken as restrictive a stance as Scottsdale.
"My guess is we’re the one of the only ones to have an ordinance (banning billboards) in the state," Miller said.
"Scottsdale has always had, or prided itself on having, higher aesthetic standards than most places," Littlefield said.