Looking Ahead: Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards

Zoning Practice — April 2008

By Marya Morris, FAICP


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Cities and counties have always been challenged to keep their sign ordinances updated to address the latest in sign types and technologies. Each new sign type that has come into use — for example, backlit awnings and electronic message centers — has prompted cities to amend their regulations in response to or in anticipation of an application to install such a sign.

The advent in the last several years of signs using digital video displays represents the latest, and perhaps the most compelling, challenge to cities trying to keep pace with signage technology. More so than any other type of sign technology that has come into use in the last 40 to 50 years, digital video displays on both off-premise (i.e., billboards) andon-premise signs raise very significant traffic safety considerations.

This issue of Zoning Practice recaps the latest research on the effects of digital signage on traffic safety and includes a list of ordinance provisions for effective regulation.


Page Count
Date Published
April 1, 2008
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Marya Morris, FAICP
Marya Morris is a self employed planning and zoning consultant based in Wilmette, Illinois. She is also a freelance writer and editor and has authored nine Planning Advisory Service Reports, the most recent of which is Design Review, co-authored with Mark Henshaw, FAICP, in 2018. She was a member of the Glencoe Plan Commission from 2009-2017..