City of El Paso considers striking ban on mobile billboards, plan commission recommends not to

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The City of El Paso is considering an amendment to an ordinance at least 11-years-old that would strike down a ban on mobile billboards.

For now, mobile billboards are not allowed within the city limits, unless, they are within a regulated size and on private property. But a discussion during a recent city plan commission signaled the City Council may consider striking down the ban.

City staff said the interest in removing the mobile billboard ban came from the council. But on Dec. 16, the plan commission voted unanimously against the proposal after a brief presentation by city staff.

“It just opens the door to all these businesses that would create these obstructions,” commissioner Martina Lorey of District 2 said. “It visually impacts and it’s not exactly a positive impact.”

Next month, the El Paso City Council will see the introduction of the amendment giving the public an opportunity to comment on whether the ban should be struck down. The council will be made aware of the plan commission’s recommendation on the issue.

A public hearing will be held in February to allow for further input for any changes to the law before the council votes on the amendment.

The city proposes allowing for a one-year pilot program to see how the public responds to the lifted ban.

Under the new proposal, a business would be able to use mobile billboards by applying for special permits and paying a fee of $1,500. The number of operators would be limited to three.

Mobile billboards would not be allowed on freeways or residential streets. And, the signs would be limited to 14-feet from the ground, 22 feet in length and 220 square-feet in size. Also, the mobile billboards would not be able to operate between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The proposal would also restrict the use of digital signs or ones that use changeable electronic variable messages. The city would also restrict the use of sound on mobile billboards.

If winds are beyond 35-miles-per-hour, the city would not allow mobile billboards to be used under the plan. For now, mobile billboards can be used on private property with an owner’s consent, are under 36 square feet in size, and stand at a maximum of eight feet tall.

The city and planning inspections staff noted they’d seen mobile billboards as campaign signage parked in public right-of-way. And, that were larger than 36-square-feet or were at least 200 square feet or larger. The staff also said they reviewed other cities and counties for their laws regarding mobile billboards.

They told the plan commission that Clark County in Nevada specifically addressed mobile billboards and that they were limited to use along the Las Vegas strip. And, vehicles are charged $500 per vehicle to operate on the strip.

City staff noted that ice cream trucks would not fall under the proposal.

Chris Cummings, the chair of the plan commission, noted Clark County only allowed mobile billboards on one street and questioned why the city would allow them on all arterial streets.

“I would say Mesa, Alameda, Dyer, the main major arterials only,” he said. “That would be my suggestion. I wouldn’t want to see them in my neighborhood or near my neighborhood.”

He also asked if the pilot program could be reduced to six months.

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