By a 5-0 vote, Miami city commissioners gave preliminary approval for LED billboards at three city-owned buildings Thursday.
They gave their initial OK to allow electronic billboards at the Miami Children’s Museum, the James L. Knight Center, and the historic Gusman theater, which has been called one of the 100 best buildings in Florida. The billboard would go on the back of the building there.
The proposal must be on the commissioners’ agenda again before it can become law.
“If we don’t start allowing these charitable organizations to have some sort of revenue source, they can no longer go to government, government can no longer shoulder this burden,” said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who was elected in part because of his strong aesthetic concerns.
He said nothing has changed, and that he doesn’t think a small number of controlled billboards is a bad thing.
“I don’t find it to be aesthetically unpleasing, and I think if you look at the good, it certainly outweighs any bad,” he said.
The proposal voted on Thursday also included an amendment by Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones that would allow electronic billboards in city parks, but the potential applicability of that amendment was unclear, The Miami Herald reported.
The city’s billboards plan could garner at least $430,000 a year in new revenue for Miami, according to the Herald.
Critics are fuming, and believe Miami is selling out.
But Sarnoff says Miami went from the worst mural program in America in 2005 to the best, by far, with fewer billboards now and more controlled settings.
“So if you want to have culture, if you want to have cultural activities, they’re going to have some revenue opportunities, or they’re going to have to close down,” he said.