Some D.C. Billboards Bite the Dust

DC clears a city block after decades of complaints

The neighborhood corner of 4th and P streets NW -- a reviving residential area -- had been home to three or four billboards for more than 80 years. But those billboards are no longer there. 

In an agreement reached with the city government, an outdoor advertising firm dismantled the billboards this month in exchange for three sites in more commercial areas.

It's part of the city's effort to enforce a revised law that says commercial billboards must be at least 200 feet from a residential neighborhood.

Long-time residenti Kathleen Davis told NBC4 that the billboards often advertised cigarettes, booze and other products "that children don't need to see."   Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anita Bonds praised Mayor Adrian Fenty for finally acting after decades of complaints went unheeded.

DC Attorney General Peter Nickles had sought to declare the billboards illegal, but no court overturned the "grandfather" provision that allowed them to remain.  A spokesman for the firm said it cooperated in removing the billboards out of respect for the citizens and the agreement with the District government.

Linda Argo, the director of the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs agency, said the city will seek to remove other billboards located in residential neighborhoods, but conceded there is no legal requirement that they come down.

Under city law, there are fewer than 100 billboards in the city that are "grandfathered in" by current legislation.  In addition to the classic billboards, there are 32 special advertising sites designated in the law.  Those sites include the flexible banners that are wrapped around some building exteriors.

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