Friday, January 23, 2009

Risky Business: Lamargate Moving Forward

Just take those old records off the shelf; I'll sit and listen to them by myself.

Last month, the zoning board nixed the sign, on a tie vote that has the effect of denying Lamar's request for special permission to build a bigger- and higher-than-normal billboard where new signs aren't usually allowed.

Lamar's appeal argues that the permit was properly granted based on an established vinyl-for-digital swap process, and that the company relied on it when it spent well over $1.3 million on the unique, curved sign. The case hasn't been assigned to a judge. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Lamar Advertising is near-certain to lose this appeal of the Zoning Board ruling, because its case for any lawfully granted permit is awful. Just awful.

However, there remains $4 million worth of custom-built electronic billboard hanging there on a Downtown street corner. That leaves Lamar three bad options:

It could take yet another wild stab in a higher court against very well-established Home Rule powers. It could sue the City of Pittsburgh for damages incurred due to the erroneous granting of a faulty city permit. Or it could seize the Parking Authority building with private security forces, unilaterally activate the sign, and dig in for a long siege.

Lamar might also leave well enough alone -- just cut its losses and go home -- but I think we have to be realistic.


  1. The unfinished snaz-ola sign should stay put!

    If we fail to designate and preserve the material and artifacts of our city's bumbling builders and dreamers we will surely repeat such follies ad nauseum, right?

    The whole Cortelyou / Simpsons Springfield thing is genius at depicting our city's sad, sleazey aspirations. In the way Delerious New York looked to the Empire State Bldg. With Penn Circle getting its reweave, etc., we're running out of the larger examples of Exciting Times Planning and Building Pgh.

  2. Option #4: OR They COULD support another mayorial candidate who WILL support their sign, rezone the zoning board and finish up what Luke couldn't do.

  3. Option #5, or perhaps #4(a): Lamar could turn back to Luke and give him more money, this time under the table Also give money to Dan and David Onorato, and have either Luke or Dan find a promotion for David (maybe in public works, not the top spot, but a good spot that could be replacing whomever is moved up if Guy Costa moves out). Probably have to replace parts of the Board as well. Luke could then sell the building (with the blessing of the new Parking Authority Director and new Board) to Lamar and also work with the new Director to grant an exception to code.

    Or they could try Bram’s option #3 (keepin’ it real). Might I suggest Ravenwood (a division of Jennings & Rall™). Now that Iraq is winding down, they probably have less to do until the apocalypse.

  4. "The unfinished snaz-ola sign should stay put!"

    That's another possibility. Once the Court of Common Pleas upholds the ZBA ruling, I think that mess officially becomes art.