Modesto considers digital billboards


MODESTO — A longtime ban on billboards in Modesto may soon make way for the digital revolution.

In January, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the municipal code that would allow for digital billboards. The City Council may consider the issue in February.

Current zoning law bans billboards, although there are 42 in the city that were up before the ban took effect.

Vintage Faire Mall wants to put one up on its property near Highway 99. It would come with a lot of rules, however.

Among the provisions the city wants to see are no animation or flashing messages, a minimum of 8 seconds per message and a guarantee that the city will get an 8-second spot in each message cycle so it can promote its events or messages.

Billboards could be no taller than 60 feet and no bigger than 700 square feet.

Any digital billboards that go up would have to be 2,500 feet from each other.

Modesto is also considering an operating agreement to allow the signs similar to agreements other cities have that provide revenue.

Applicants for digital billboards would have to obtain conditional use permits from the Planning Commission and the City Council.

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  1. Having noticed the proliferation of digital billboards in Modesto in recent years, I’ve had many conversations with community members who consider them an abomination. In the right place they can be a wonderful asset; good examples are schools, the Gallo Center, and similar public venues that are event and/or date driven. On the other hand their bright garish presence often downgrades an otherwise upscale shopping area – a good example is McHenry Village. I hope the city council will consider the appropriateness of use, as well as size and location, in their deliberations.


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