Yakima still to address billboard problems

YAKIMA, Wash. -- They're not hard to miss. They've been a hot-button issue in Yakima for some time. And, now the city says not only are these billboards here to stay, but there could be more.

Community Development Director Steve Osguthorpe said, "Because Yakima is one of the very few cities in Eastern Washington that allow billboards, there will be more demand in Yakima for billboards."

But so far, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Since 2006, there were only 15 permits issued for billboards in town. Since the ban was lifted, no new applications came in.

"It's going to depend on market conditions, and I think the industry is correct in stating that we've had a slow economy," said Osguthorpe.

Applications may not be in either because nearly two-thirds of all billboard in Yakima already don't have permits. Illegal billboards could contribute to the bigger problem of derelict ads around the city.

"Last Friday, we had one billboard that was hanging by a thread, and it was flying out like a flag," said Osguthorpe.

There is already an ordinance to maintain billboards, but it is not well-enforced. Lifting the ban may have little impact on what's already an issue.

The planning commission will meet with the Built Environment Committee next month to talk about the next step on cleaning up illegal billboards.
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