SFO ad plan may hit skids 

A proposal to increase advertising by 75 percent at San Francisco International Airport may run afoul of voter-approved restrictions intended to limit “visual clutter.”

Travelers could see 187 more advertisements, for a total of 434, under a proposal between SFO and Clear Channel Outdoor as part of a three-year contract extension.

The deal would permit advertisements on 87 jet bridges and 13 new transit shelters, which Clear Channel would pay to construct, according to a report by city Budget Analyst Harvey Rose.

When the agreement began in 2001, advertisements were allowed in just 85 locations.

The proposal is the latest conflict in a long history of battles about the amount of advertising people should be exposed to as agencies look for easy revenue.

“This is pretty gross,” said Milo Hanke, board president of San Francisco Beautiful, a group that advocates for advertisement restrictions. “Instead of greeting our visitors with a warm welcome and unique images of this great city, SFO is becoming as ugly and tedious as any other big-city airport. I wonder when they will install ads in the toilet stalls.”

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the agreement Wednesday. The increased advertising would generate an additional $1.5 million during the next three years for the airport, for a total of $23.5 million. But questions have been raised about whether the agreement is legal.

In November, voters approved Proposition E, which built on previously approved measures by capping the amount of advertising on the exterior of city buildings or street furniture, such as transit shelters, at no more than what was allowed in January 2008.

Amid the concerns, the airport is hitting the brakes.

“The airport has requested that this item be pulled from the board’s calendar because of a possible conflict with The City’s ban on advertising,” SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said. “We hope to have a ruling on this matter from the City Attorney’s Office in the near future.”

Last week, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with BART and the airport to roll back a recent fare increase for SFO employees in exchange for allowing advertising in the BART airport station, where no advertising was permitted previously.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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