Manteca’s city hall leadership apparently is ready to follow through on the city’s right to terminate contracts and remove three billboards on municipal property along the Tidewater Bikeway.
The city’s lawsuit against Outdoor Media filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court will be discussed in closed session when the City Council meets tonight.
The three two-sided billboards along Moffat Boulevard are essentially in a city park given that is how the 34 acres along the 3.8-mile Tidewater Bikeway is part of Manteca’s park system.
Besides being inappropriate for a city park or an eyesore as others contend, the low-to-the-ground billboards also pose a hazard of sorts as every once in a while students walking to and from Manteca High will climb onto the billboards and walk along a narrow ledge at the base of the advertisement.
The original lease agreements for the billboards were transferred to the city when Manteca purchased the old Tidewater Southern Railroaded right-of-way in 1997 to build its namesake bikeway.
City first ordered
almost 22 years ago
The first time the city gave notice it wanted the billboards out was on March 19, 2001 when the City Council gave approval to provide notification of termination of the lease agreement with Gannett Outdoor Advertising when it was originally thought the secondary wastewater line serving Eckert’s Cold Storage would go under the billboards.
Another option for the line was discovered and the council’s directive was not implemented.
On April 16, 2007, the City Council reaffirmed its earlier decision to terminate the lease. That notice went to CBS Outdoor on May 1, 2007. CBS Outdoor — the nation’s largest owner of billboards at the time — had since acquired the signs.
The city in 2018 was receiving $2,070 a year in lease payments for the land where the billboards sit. That is a significant bargain since many home builders will pay Manteca property owners for temporary permanent signs one-sixth the size of the billboards $100 a month to place them on their property.
The City Council next served notice on May 1, 2007 to CBS Outdoor — a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS — that it wanted three two-sided billboards on city property removed.
The legal agreement between the city and the media company required the billboards to either be removed within 30 days of receiving notice from the city or — if not removed by them — the city could do so and the sign company would have to reimburse the city for the costs of removal as long as it occurred within one year after the 30-day period expired.
That meant the city had until June 1, 2008 to remove the billboards that are in the Tidewater Bikeway municipal park and still get CBS to reimburse the costs. However, city staff at the time said CBS said they’d play legal hardball and fight the city using a federal law that was intended to prevent local governments from forcing the removal of billboards on private property. In this case, the billboards are on public property.
The council legally canceled the contract and then did nothing.
OutFront Media — the nation’s largest owner of billboards — has since purchased CBS’ billboard division.
Planned Parenthood, beer firms
have advertised on city property
The billboards on municipal park system property over the years that have advertised beer, Planned Parenthood, and political campaigns have been a sore point with some especially given the city doesn’t allow such advertising elsewhere on municipal property.
There’s often graffiti for days on the billboards at the Powers Avenue intersection given it is so close to the ground. If it were any other business in Manteca, the graffiti would have been painted over by paint.
There’s also another issue with that particular billboard. It hangs a tad bit over the sidewalk right-of-way which is a no-no based on the city’s sign rules.
But that is not nearly as bad as the attractive nuisance that sign creates. It is low enough to the ground that teens — and sometimes pre-teens — have been spotted climbing up it and walking across the narrow ledge.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org