‘Visual pollution’ on public street furniture curtailed

San Francisco voters have said no to more advertising in public spaces.

Proposition E prohibits an increase in the number of general advertising signs on street furniture in excess of the number existing as of Jan. 1, 2008. Street furniture includes transit shelters, kiosks, public toilets, benches, newspaper racks and other structures on public sidewalks or places.

Supporters of the measure argued the restriction preserves the unique beauty of San Francisco — which draws tourism — and restricts “visual pollution.” Opponents said the measure was anti-business and prevents The City from benefiting from a sizeable revenue stream, especially during tough economic times.

“Restrictions on general advertising would affect the ability of some public agencies to generate additional revenue,” according to an analysis from the city controller. The Municipal Transportation Agency — which oversees Muni — collects about $15 million annually from advertising on transit shelters, and the restriction prevents the transit agency from expanding the amount of advertising.

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