Billboard Owners Need to Pay

There is a reason so many businesspeople like putting up billboards in Revere near to major highways or highly commercial areas. Billboards generate enormous amounts in rental income forever once they are put up.

Putting them up is all about getting the proper approvals and securing a special permit  from the City Council. So every billboard hopeful needs 8 votes of the city council to do their thing.

Over the years, the city has been plastered with billboards everywhere. In most instances, councilors line up to do the bidding for the billboard owners, which, frankly, is inexplicable as the billboards themselves do nothing for anyone except for the people putting them up, for the people owning them, and for the people sharing in the revenue stream. And yes, the city receives small tax payments in return

In recent years, the city’s prohibition against billboards has been lifted.

There is now an effort underway, and it was discussed at Monday night’s council meeting, to allow a special permit so a billboard company can put one up at the Four Point Sheraton at the end of Squire Road. It will be a two sided sign that will rise something like 50 feet in the air and would be seen clearly by traffic moving North and South on Route 1.

The council seems ready to allow it, although to allow it would be a crime without first demanding a mitigation fee from the sign owner for the city. That’s how its done in Boston, Somerville, Chelsea and in nearly every city and town these days.

A sign like the one being proposed would generate approximately $8,000 – $20,000 a month or $100,000 to $200,000+ a year. The Four Points people would get a lease fee of about $25,000 a year. The owner of the billboard would get the rest.

This is to say, the owner of the billboard might well make anywhere from $75,000 to $175,000 for this single sign in one year. Annualized and added up, the figures are enormous. Is it any wonder billboard people come here to put them up?

The only wonder is why the city council doesn’t demand at least $20,000 a year in mitigation funding for the mayor to put to use for software the city needs to purchase or for equipment needs at the Fire Department or for training at the Police Department?

The city council debate over the billboard issue Monday night was absent of common sense and absolutely absent of the notion that the city can benefit from allowing the sign on Squire Road – which really bothers no one as no one lives on that side of Squire Road.

Before this city allows another billboard, the billboard owner must be ready to pay mitigation or the owner should be told to go to another city.

To do any less for the city is a crime. Allowing another billboard to go up without the city benefiting from it makes absolutely no sense and shouldn’t be allowed.

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