Bye-bye Billboards

The MVSNA and other Shaw leaders have been successful in pushing DCRA to crackdown on illegal billboards in the district. Many of these billboards are simply revenue streams for absentee landlords to profit on a vacant lot or nuisance property. The community is left to deal with the daily blight as the dilapidated lots are habitually littered with trash and in some cases the billboards provide cover for nefarious activity. The neglected property at 300 New York Ave (pictured below) was a prime example of a trashy lot accompanied by a sloppy billboard.

former billboard at vacant 300 New York Ave lot; photo from Cary Silverman

Not all billboards are created equal. The large signage on the north face of the Hampton Inn (6th & K St NW) is not in the same category as those erected in the Shaw nuisance properties. I may be in the minority, but I’ve found a few of the Hampton Inn signs refreshing including last year’s Hancock ad and this year’s Spread Peace message from Yoko Ono.

Smart Water billboard at 11th and K St NW; image from Daquella Manera

My favorite billboard at the moment is the Smartwater Jennifer Aniston advertisement nearby at 11th & K. This gigantic wrap around billboard is on a vacant Douglas Jemal building and probably does need to be removed to be even handed with the regulation enforcement. However I would point out that unlike many of the other Shaw offenders it is a sheik advertisement fastened to a well constructed billboard. Contrast that with the aforementioned 300 New York Ave plywood wall of cheap posters and flyers for cancelled TV shows and DOA movies. Perhaps the Smartwater billboard can find a more legitimate home elsewhere.

Finally, there was some question surrounding the sales banners on Triangle condos. Several of my sources have relayed to me that in correspondence with DCRA these banners are deemed allowable during the initial sales period. As a neighbor I never found the City Vista sales banners to be aesthetically obnoxious. I do however wonder if you lived in the unit with a balcony next door to one would you hear it flapping violently on a windy day?

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  1. 1

    si says

    I mostly agree with you. that lot at 300 block of NY is the biggest nightmare on cleanup day. we collected bag after bag of unmentionable refuse 2x/year…cary mowed it & someone:)…took down that nasty billboard only to have another stronger one spring up in its place. infuriating.

    i too like the big one at the hampton inn & its totally legal as is jemal's wraparound at 11th & K. but i do have issue with the latter on which i am always happy to rant about. though jennifer aniston is admittedly attractive eye candy, especially in comparison to the usual boring car ads that frequently grace that corner, this is still a case of slumbanking at its worst! imho it is NOT ok for jemal to let a historic mansion rot while raking in 5k a week for the giant sign he bolted onto it! DC is supposed to have a law that an owner cannot post advertising on a vacant property but this one gets a pass. and dont get me started on the poo colony that used to be there before he got around to erecting a fence. it was really bad.

  2. 2

    fourthandeye says

    Perhaps I didn't make my point well. I conceded that I think the Aniston ad is vacant slumbanking and for that reason should be fall under the violation category.

    But I do think it's a slick and attractive advertisement and merits a home somewhere else. I think it is artful as I like the combination of the sepia-ish photography with the splashes of blue color. Then secondarily JA is eye candy…

    Out my Madrigal window I see the Lexus billboards affixed to Carmel Plaza 365 days a year. They don't bother me, but I would prefer a more interesting rotation of ads than constant pictures of cars…

  3. 3

    Blue Specks says

    I agree with si. I have seen that building there for years now and think it has so much character. I think it would be great for someone to restore it.