Tuesday, November 16, 2004

visual effluvium

In Sunday's News and Record, my friend and colleague Keith Debbage urged moderation from all sides on the hot-button, billboards-on-the-urban-loop debate. The Guilford County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing on Thursday.

I, along with a bunch of other people, talked to the Commissioners about this issue in May, and I managed to enrage both Pat Short (who wanted to put billboards on his urban-loop property) and Rhino Times editor John Hammer by asking whether Guilford county was ready to live with billboards like those Dockside Dolls beauties on I40/85. (John likes billboards.)

David Hoggard had a good post on this, and the Rhino's Scott Yost covered that meeting, although he didn't note that Pat Short bought the property in question after the loop had gone through. That is, Short bought it as an investment property, betting on getting it rezoned for billboards.

Here's the thing. Billboards are the effluvium of commerce, just like manure is the effluvium of hog farming. Commerce and hog farming are both good things, but communities reserve the right to tell businesses and farmers where -- and where not -- to dump the waste.


D. Hoggard said...

Well alrighty then.

Welcome Dave, this is going to be a whole lot of fun... just trust me on that.

David Wharton said...

My first comment! Thanks, David!

Anonymous said...

It would be wonderful if Greensboro spent a tenth of time it spends debating whether or not billboards can be seen from the (sic)scenic byway to debate how the city might actually improve walkability and urban form.

Ed Cone claims to have coined the phrase, "Greensboro Disease" and I hereby propose a new symptom- that in Greensboro, those infected with GD spend more time arguing about the world looks like from the inside of their car, than how it looks on foot.

When the urban loop was given the green light, it was just another stake in the heart of downtown Greensboro. To be arguing about the aesthetic qualities of an urban sprawl-promoting, anti-community freeway, frankly, is akin to debating the merits of being shot or being hung.

In terms of urbanity, this discussion is a disheartening indicator of how low the level of discourse about the public realm has sunk in Greensboro.

Congrats on the new blog. Despite my obviously negative post, I salute your effort and I hope you can turn the discussion of urbanity in Greensboro in better directions.

David Wharton said...

Thanks for bringing it up, Anonymous.

Don't worry, there'll be plenty of pedstrian blogging to come, maybe even photo-pedestrian blogging, if I can manage the technical bits. Please note that I've already started dog-jog blogging (sorry!).

I started this blog with the urban loop because there's a hearing this week, not because I think it's our #1 issue.

But we're all going to be using our cars for the next couple of generations, so why not make the ride as nice as possible?