Elsbernd questions advertising restrictions

A plan to increase advertising at the San Francisco International Airport has been put on hold following questions whether it would violate voter-approved ballot measures that imposed restrictions on increasing the amount of advertising spaces.

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisor Budget and Finance Committee was scheduled to vote on the agreement. But the committee tabled it at the request of the airport.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who sits on the committee, questioned whether voters knew exactly what they were doing when they approved the restrictions on advertising.

“We know [Muni] has lost out on millions of dollars. 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. And so in the future I do hope when these campaigns go forward the electorate is given the full packet of information and not just the no on advertising.”

Elsbernd said, “I agree the voters have voted for this, but quite frankly when these measures go before the ballot they are done in a way that is bit of a sham. The voters aren’t given all the facts. The voters aren’t told you are going to lose out on all these dollars.”

Elsbernd’s comments came after comments by Peter Fortune, a board member of San Francisco Beautiful, which advocates for advertising restrictions.

“Three times your constituents have voted to say no new general advertising signs,” Fortune said. “One as far back as 2002, said no new bill boards, no new general advertising signs. They did it again in 2007. They did it again in 2009. This flies flatly in the face of what your constituents have voted against every time. It’s crazy to just see if we can get around what your constituents want in a contract just to raise revenue. San Francisco airport is not dependent on the general fund. It can raise its own income from other sources. Let it get it from some place other than advertising.”

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