Kansas City Strip

Paste this: Voters might have let them keep their signs by rejecting the anti-billboard Proposition A last November, but Missouri’s sign erectors have apparently gotten the message that their billboards are ugly. Why else would the Missouri Outdoor Advertising Association lobby for legislation that will, as the association’s lawyer, Bill May, puts it, “encourage voluntary removal” of roadside signs “by requiring two signs to be removed for each new sign built”?

Maybe because each of the new signs could be as big as two old signs combined. And the law repeals itself, permanently, as soon as the state billboard inventory declines by at least 1,500 structures to about 11,000.

“It won’t change the way Missouri looks,” says Amelia Cottle of Scenic Missouri, which supports a Prop A-style alternative bill. If the sign companies’ bill passes, expect those scarce state billboard permits to become pricy assets for the billboard companies. Want to put up a sign or start a billboard business? Go to Louisiana and buy some Missouri state permits from the Lamar billboard company. “It creates more of a monopoly for those who hold permits,” Cottle notes.

Sure, some Missouri billboards might come down: the smallest, oldest and most decrepit ones, Cottle says. More likely, however, those small signs will be made bigger as sign owners add “extensions.” (Think guitar necks poking out from a Branson billboard.)

And the billboard industry can’t get the law changed soon enough: Its bill includes an emergency clause calling for immediate enforcement upon the governor’s signature.

Remember the dire warnings about economic collapse if Prop A passed? Small businesses would suffer, the billboard lovers told us. So why can’t the sign companies find advertisers now?

• Three months after the election, “Vote no on Proposition A. It’s bad for business” still screams from pasted paper along eastbound I-670, just as drivers enter the jackass state. “Thanks, Missouri,” chimes an added-on banner splayed across the campaign slogan. Why hasn’t a small business bought that space?

• Other out-of-season messages abound, such as phone-book billboards touting the “summer’s hottest hits” that have razzed I-35 motorists downtown as they spun out on snow and ice all winter.

• And unfortunately, we’re all too often reminded that “Lamar is watching.” Yes, the billboard companies are now just advertising themselves. Thanks, Missouri!

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