Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/23/1993 03:35 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  The first order of business  was SB 157 (PROHIBITED  HIGHWAY                 
  ADVERTISING).    SENATOR  FRANK,  sponsor  of  the  measure,                 
  explained the bill is identical to legislation introduced in                 
  the House by Representative Menard.  He said he has received                 
  complaints from people  who aren't  allowed to advertise  or                 
  put  up signs that would direct  people to their businesses.                 
  He referred to  his own situation  and said DOT/PF made  him                 
  remove a sign that directed people to his place of business.                 
  Senator Frank pointed out that state law is more restrictive                 
  than federal law.   The federal  law, commonly known as  the                 
  Lady Bird  Law, outlaws outdoor advertising.   It does allow                 
  for  exceptions in  areas that  are zoned for  commercial or                 
  industrial use.   State law  doesn't contain that  allowable                 
  use.  The purpose  of the bill is to make  state law more in                 
  conformance  with federal  law.   Senator  Frank said  it is                 
  important to recognize that local governments still have the                 
  authority  to  regulate signage  and  would still  have that                 
  right under the  proposed legislation.  He  introduced David                 
  Skidmore of  his  staff, and  indicated he  would give  more                 
  detailed testimony.                                                          
  DAVID  SKIDMORE, legislative  staff to  Senator  Frank, came                 
  before the committee.   SENATOR LINCOLN referred to  page 1,                 
  line 6, "outdoor advertising is permitted outside the right-                 
  of-way of a  state highway,"  and asked if  that means  that                 
  there are no limits in the bill on the size,  content, light                 
  level, noise, etc.   SENATOR FRANK said he is  talking about                 
  private   property   and   indicated   that   there   aren't                 
  limitations.  Senator Lincoln asked if the advertising could                 
  be anything that the  private owner would agree to  relating                 
  to  size, etc.  Senator Frank  said he believes so.  Senator                 
  Lincoln  referred  to page  2, line  12, and  questioned the                 
  meaning of "public nuisance."  Senator Frank said he doesn't                 
  know what the answer is.                                                     
  Senator Lincoln  said according  to DOT/PF's position  paper                 
  they have indicated that they are neutral on the bill.   She                 
  said  there  is  a  zero  fiscal  note  and  the  department                 
  indicated there would  be additional  work for their  crews.                 
  The position paper  also states  the department has  concern                 
  with billboards being an encroachment on scenic beauty.  The                 
  Division  of Tourism considers the highway  system to be the                 
  single largest  attraction for visitors visiting the Alaska.                 
  The consequences will be that  businesses located at similar                 
  highway settings will be treated  differently under the law.                 
  Senator Lincoln said it is unclear  to her as to whether the                 
  department supports the  bill and whether  a fiscal note  is                 
  involved.  She referred to page 2 of the fiscal note, "There                 
  is likely to be  an increase in illegal signs  as businesses                 
  to try to equalize their  visibility with businesses located                 
  along highways where the relaxed advertising standards would                 
  apply."  Senator Lincoln said the position of the department                 
  isn't clear.   SENATOR FRANK  said currently the  department                 
  spends money telling people to take  down their signs.  They                 
  also  spend money taking  signs down.   Businesses along the                 
  highway have expressed frustration that they can't advertise                 
  their business or direct  someone to their business.   It is                 
  inconvenient for the traveling public that is trying to find                 
  a place of  business.   Senator Frank said  he doesn't  know                 
  what the  department's position  is as  they do  seem to  be                 
  vague.    He   said  it  isn't   his  intent  not  to   have                 
  restrictions.   Senator Frank said  he hopes that during the                 
  committee process a  reasonable set  of restrictions can  be                 
  developed which would help businesses along the highway and,                 
  at  the  same  time,  not  result  in some  of  the  onerous                 
  undesirable billboard advertising.                                           
  CHAIRMAN SHARP said  there are still remaining  mandates and                 
  restrictions on  certain category  roads throughout  Alaska.                 
  He said it is  his understanding that signs will  be allowed                 
  on  private  land in  areas  not prohibited  by  the federal                 
  government.   SENATOR  FRANK  said he  would  work with  the                 
  committee  to  try and  write  amendments to  accomplish the                 
  purpose but not open it up to an undesirable situation.                      
  DAVID SKIDMORE, legislative staff to Senator Frank, said the                 
  legislation  would repeal the  statutory basis  for Alaska's                 
  comprehensive prohibition of  roadside outdoor  advertising.                 
  The intent is to bring state law in conformance with federal                 
  law.  Currently,  Alaska statute  provides that all  outdoor                 
  roadside advertising is prohibited except  as provided in AS                 
  19.25.105.  The  statute provides  that such advertising  is                 
  prohibited within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-                 
  of-way  along an interstate,  primary, or  secondary highway                 
  except for the following types of signs:  (1) Official signs                 
  and notices; (2)  Signs advertising property sale  or lease;                 
  (3) Landmark  signs, school  signs, and  advertising on  bus                 
  benches and  shelters.   Mr. Skidmore  said current  federal                 
  law, Title 23 of  the U.S. Code Section 131,  prohibits most                 
  outdoor advertising  along interstate  and primary  highways                 
  while secondary highways  are not  regulated by the  federal                 
  government.    However, with  regard  to the  interstate and                 
  primary highways,  there  are  two  significant  exceptions.                 
  Section 131 of Title 23 provides that, "signs may be erected                 
  and maintained within  660 feet of  the nearest edge of  the                 
  right-of-way  within  areas adjacent  to  an  interstate and                 
  primary  systems which  are zoned  industrial  or commercial                 
  under authority  of state  law or  in unzoned commercial  or                 
  industrial areas as  may be determined by  agreement between                 
  the  several states and  the secretary."   Mr. Skidmore said                 
  the reference to unzoned areas will apply where the land use                 
  pattern  fits the  designation of industrial  or commercial.                 
  He referred to  unzoned commercial  and industrial  activity                 
  and pointed out that according to Jeff Ottesen, Chief Right-                 
  of-Way  agent  for  DOT/PF,  one  business enterprise  would                 
  create an area eligible for off premise outdoor advertising.                 
  Federal  law  does allow  for  exceptions in  commercial and                 
  industrial areas along interstate  and primary highways, but                 
  does  not regulate  such activity along  secondary highways.                 
  Mr. Skidmore said there has been  some confusion as to which                 
  highways  would   be  effected  by  the  bill  as  the  1991                 
  Intermodel Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) did                 
  away  with the  interstate, primary,  and secondary  highway                 
  classification  system  and  replaced  it  with  a  national                 
  highway system.   He noted the federal government  does plan                 
  to  continue to  utilize  the  same  highway  classification                 
  scheme in dealing solely with  outdoor advertising for those                 
  highways which were  classified as interstate or  primary at                 
  the date  of passage of ISTEA.   Section 10.46  of ISTEA did                 
  amend federal law to  stipulate that most new signs  may not                 
  be erected along highways that  are designated scenic byways                 
  under a state program.   That means if and when DOT/PF  does                 
  establish  a  scenic highway  road  system in  Alaska, those                 
  positions which are made up of highways that were classified                 
  interstate or primary as  of the passage of ISTEA,  will not                 
  be subject to the industrial commercial signage exception.                   
  Mr.  Skidmore  explained  that  there  are  three  potential                 
  results of SB 157.  The first is secondary highways would be                 
  released  from state  restrictions  on outdoor  advertising.                 
  Second, signs could be erected and maintained in areas zoned                 
  industrial  or   commercial  along  interstate   or  primary                 
  highways.    Third,  unzoned areas  in  which  commercial or                 
  industrial activity  takes place would also  apparently have                 
  the  ability  to  erect  and maintain  signs.    This  would                 
  facilitate  efforts  by roadside  businesses  to  make their                 
  presence and location known to highway travelers.                            
  Number 316                                                                   
  SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS  asked Roger Allington why  the state                 
  law is so  much more  restrictive than federal  law.   ROGER                 
  ALLINGTON, Director, Division of Engineering and Operations,                 
  DOT/PF,  said he doesn't  know the answer.   He  said at the                 
  present  time the state  has an  agreement with  the Federal                 
  Highway Administration that dates back to 1968.                              
  SENATOR LINCOLN asked  Mr. Allington why the  position paper                 
  is neutral to the legislation.  Mr. Allington said he thinks                 
  that  probably  there  are  mixed  emotions  within  DOT/PF,                 
  officially and individually.  He said he believes that there                 
  are  some legitimate reasons  for outdoor advertising signs,                 
  but on the other hand, many  of us have seen areas, such  as                 
  Highway 101 out of Los Angeles  where you can't see the hill                 
  because  of all  the  signs  along  the right-of-way.    Mr.                 
  Allington said  the department  believes that  it is  public                 
  policy position that the legislature needs to address.                       
  There being not further testimony, CHAIRMAN SHARP asked that                 
  Senator Lincoln's office work with Senator Frank's office on                 
  the concerns of the legislation.                                             

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