Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CM James Comments On Collapse of Illegal Billboard In Williamsburg

January 14, 2011

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis at (212) 788-7081

Council Member Letitia James Comments On Collapse of Illegal Billboard In Williamsburg
Illegal Billboard Fell Onto BQE; Highlights Need For Greater Regulation

(New York, NY)— On Friday, January 13, 2012, an illegal billboard advertising the New York Lottery fell onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) due to high winds. The collapsed billboard blocked the BQE after falling on a guardrail. It also struck a nearby car wash and body shop, severed a gas line, and damaged a vehicle. Fortunately no one was injured, and traffic resumed about an hour after the incident.

The billboard was mounted atop 421 Meeker Avenue, and fell around 2:20PM, with the billboard's metal supporting partially falling on the building itself. Gas at the building was shut off, and the FDNY confirmed a partial gas leak. The New York City Department of Buildings zoning rules prohibit billboard placement within 200 feet of highways, however many City highways are lined with illegal billboards.

"It is time the Buildings Department cracked down on illegal billboards," said Council Member Letitia James. "It is fortunate that no one was hurt in this incident, but it is time the City enforced this rule and held sign companies responsible. As long as advertisers make more in illegal billboard placement than they pay in fines, this will continue to pose a danger. I call upon the Department to inspect City billboards for legality and safety."

In 2009, a Federal District Court in Manhattan found that “the City’s enforcement of its zoning regulations has been inconsistent and less than vigorous...The billboard industry has taken advantage of this lax enforcement and has consistently ignored the regulations on billboard sign location.”


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