Finally, the beginning of the rollback of clutter created by billboards. Passed in Toronto, the long-time hometown of Jane Jacobs. Can that be an accident?
Corporate creep, the profit-minded takeover of public space, is not unlike a roach infestation: stomach-churning, not pretty, and always a losing battle. Yet the battle rages on. The issues underlying many current debates re-exert the right of the public over public space, whether real or virtual: Social networking site privacy uproars, state and city university walk-outs, the low-power FM radio movement, sponsored public transit stations. And the sad fact is, despite that they greatly outnumber the, ah, vermin – the public is losing this fight against the corporate creeps.
Except in Toronto, Ontario. There the public, angered by the realization that about half the billboards in their town are illegal, lobbied for landmark legislation last week that will curb the corporate crime that goes on before our very eyes. Everywhere. (An estimated two-thirds of the outdoor advertising here in Chicago sits outside of permitted zones.)