Thanks a lot, drought! Bad enough that you’ve been depleting our groundwater basins; turning front lawns into Public Enemy No. 1; and making us feel guilty every time we order a glass of water at a restaurant.
Now a fresh indignity: You’re sticking us with an unsightly billboard for another 15 years.
The billboard, which currently advertises the McDonald’s restaurant in Nipomo, is a familiar sight to motorists driving north on the 101. The permit for the billboard was set to expire, but the property owner requested a 15-year extension. Among other arguments, he pointed out that he hasn’t been able to develop the otherwise vacant commercial parcel. A sympathetic San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors agreed to extend the billboard permit for another 15 years.
So why can’t the owner build on his land?
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The Great Recession played a role, but the drought is the main villain. Because of the lack of available water, the Nipomo Community Services District is no longer processing new applications for water connections. The landowner could build storage units on the commercial property, but Nipomo needs more storage units even less than it needs more billboards. That leaves the billboard as the only revenue-producing opportunity
Board Chairwoman Lynn Compton acknowledged some people don’t like billboards, but for them, she had this advice: “… If you’re bothered by it, look away.”
Sorry, Supervisor Compton, but it isn’t that easy.
We’re among those who believe billboard advertisements — no matter how cute or clever — are obnoxious highway clutter, fast becoming irrelevant in this age of GPS technology. As pointed out by Supervisor Bruce Gibson — who cast the only vote against the permit extension — neighboring coastal counties don’t allow billboards. Why should we?
We understand the desire to cut the property owner some slack — especially because he donates a portion of the billboard revenue to the Nipomo Recreation Center — but we also believe the county should take advantage of every opportunity to improve views along the Highway 101 corridor. Decluttering is a good first step.
This was a missed opportunity. Instead of indirectly blaming the drought, supervisors should have compromised by extending the permit for a shorter period of time.