Will Santa Clara Build More Billboards?
By Robert Haugh
Soon, the city council will deal with the Allvision billboard issue. If Allvision gets its way, it means more billboards in Santa Clara, according to some neighborhood leaders.
A Brief History:
In March, 2015, the city awarded Allvision a contract to both manage and develop billboards. This was controversial at the time, because during the process, another competitor, TRA, offered the city a larger share of proceeds from managing existing billboards.
TRA also said that it would not develop additional billboards in the city, unlike Allvision who proposed a “contractor/developer model.”
Currently, city policy prohibits additional billboards in the city, unless existing ones are removed. Former City Attorney Ren Nosky said he saw no problem with Allvision building more, even if existing ones are not removed. Will new City Attorney Brian Doyle agree?
The Santa Clara Weekly published a good story in 2015: http://www.santaclaraweekly.com/2015/Issue-12/city_desk.html
After receiving the contract, Allvision has generated no revenue. City staff had said Allvision would generate tremendous advertising revenue from the Super Bowl in Feb. 2016. Is this a breach of contract?
Then, during the 2016 city council election cycle, Allvision became controversial when they hired Patty Mahan to deal with the city. An independent ethics investigator found that Mahan should have registered as a lobbyist, although she was not fined.
When the issue comes back to the council, will Mahan recuse herself?
Out of curiosity, we checked to see if Allvision executive Josh Scharfberg registered as a lobbyist. He was in meetings with Mahan and councilmembers. As of Oct. 4, 2016, he hadn’t. Is this another Allvision violation?
Also, we’ve seen the Old Quad 2016 candidate questionnaire asking about Allvision’s efforts to build more billboards. All the winning candidates said no. That’s right. Debi Davis, Teresa O’Neill, Kathy Watanabe AND even Mahan said no. That’s a majority of the council, even if Mahan recuses herself. Mayor Lisa Gillmor opposed the initial Allvision contract.
This issue raises lots of questions and is worth following closely.