City’s ad restrictions may hamper revenue

A study examining advertising policies on public property is expected to begin this year as The City faces budget deficits and looks for ways to gain more revenue.

Once complete, the report will make clear the amount of revenue The City is receiving from advertising contracts and the impact restrictions on the medium is having on revenue.

Also, the study will look at the agreements governing the sale of naming rights for both the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and Candlestick Park.

On Thursday, the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee approved the budget analyst conducting the study, in addition to others.

Advertising policies most recently came under scrutiny in September when the San Francisco International Airport proposed increasing advertising space at the hub to generate additional revenue. The proposal raised legal concerns about whether the proposal would violate voter-approved advertising restrictions. Amid the concerns, the proposal was withdrawn. 

At the time, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd questioned whether voters were aware of how the advertising restrictions would impact The City’s ability to generate revenue.

“We know [the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] has lost out on millions of dollars,” Elsbernd said at the time. “I think in the future if the voters have the opportunity to say, ‘Do we want to see fare hikes, do we want to see service cuts or do we want a little more advertising?’ I think they might be willing to take the advertising.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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