Gulfport Cracks Down On Digital Advertising

Some say they are distracting. Others say they give South Mississippi a more city-like feel. However, Gulfport city leaders don't like the idea of electronic billboards, and that's why they are cracking down on digital advertising.

"It changed and it said 'missing' and it had the girl's name. And I found myself having to duck to look through the windows because, having a law enforcement background, I wanted to see who we were looking for. And the next thing I know I'm about to slam into the car in front of me," Neil Resh said.

Safety is the primary concern.

"They are designed to attract your attention, and therefore distract you from what we all should be doing, and that's paying closer attention to the road," Gulfport Business Council President Brian Sanderson said.

Leaders also believe the signs don't give drivers enough time to see the message. Representatives from Lamar Advertising, the company that owns most of the billboards, say that can be changed.

"How long the display stays before it's changed is often addressed in ordinances. Six seconds, eight seconds, 12 seconds, all of this is adjustable and can be subject to reasonable regulations," a Lamar representative told council members.

Unlike traditional signage or even the tri-vision signs, digital billboards can hold up to six advertisements. Proponents say they not only update the look of a city, but also prevent the surge of outdoor billboards.

However, Tuesday's unanimous vote from the council will prohibit new outdoor advertising in residential areas effective immediately. The vote also means tougher regulation of new signage. That decision will change the look of Gulfport one way or another.

Gulfport city leaders say they have no plans to remove current digital advertisements.