Friday, August 31, 2012

Great Moments in Government Regulation: Thou Shall Not Change Signs More than Twice per Day

1. Washington Post -- "If the Church of the Good Shepherd in Vienna, VA wanted to post the Ten Commandments on its sign on Hunter Mill Road, it would take five days to broadcast them all. That’s because Fairfax County has a commandment of its own: Thou shall not change electronic signs more than twice a day."

"So, after the Vienna United Methodist church posted three messages one day last month — offering refuge from the heat, then promoting its Web site and finally listing the time of a group prayer meeting — a zoning inspector called it a sin and hit the church with a warning letter":

“It is noted that the screens changed more than twice in a twenty-four (24) hour period,” the letter stated. “This changeable copy LED sign is considered a prohibited sign.”

"The county offered two choices: permanently limit the sign to two message changes per day or remove it altogether. At a meeting at the end of July, about two months after the church installed the sign, the county and the congregation couldn’t agree on a compromise. So the church, believing that the First Amendment also applies to the word of God, sued last week in federal court in Alexandria, saying the two-message limit violates the church’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. The suit says that the county’s ordinance violates a 2000 law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits zoning rules that place undue burdens on religious institutions."

UpdateFairfax County says it will revisit sign rule that sparked church lawsuit

HT: Curtis Purington


26 Comments:

At 8/31/2012 3:20 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I'm not sure what the logic behind such an ordnance would be.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:22 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

When did we did we start requiring regulation to be logical?

 
At 8/31/2012 3:26 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Well, even the illogical regulations have reasons behind them. Protectionism is in the name of protecting jobs. Minimum wage is in the name of helping poor. I'm just wondering what justification was used to convince the city board to go along with this.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:26 PM, Blogger Moe said...

Those signs are actually very distracting to people trying to concentrate on driving....while they are texting and talking on the phone.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:29 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Ah that could be, Moe.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Methinks

"hen did we did we start requiring regulation to be logical?"

Beat me to it.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:39 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

JM, if I were a betting woman (and I am!), I'd bet that hearing the explanation would not lift your confusion.

I was only 0.333% kidding when I wrote that question.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:50 PM, Blogger kuhchung said...

.333 repeating, of course.

 
At 8/31/2012 3:55 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Larry??? Where are you when we need you?

We can't figure out a reason for this regulation and, not only do you live in Virginia, you're the only one I can think of that could either:
a) tell us why this is totally sensible
or
b) tell us that we need to find a country with no sign regulations to compare it to before we could ever figure it out.

 
At 8/31/2012 4:03 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

LOL, Mike!!

 
At 8/31/2012 4:05 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Jon,

"Protectionism is in the name of protecting jobs. Minimum wage is in the name of helping poor."

Actually, I think they both have their roots in racism...so, let's see, what hidden agenda could there be? Just a thought, but what if electronic signs are limited by the lobby of traditional billboard? They can't compete with the volume....Just a thought.

 
At 8/31/2012 4:06 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Kuhchung,

It is a well established fact that us finance types over-estimate the importance of precision to the 18th significant digit when the reality is that could fit jupiter into the "wiggle room" in our estimates.

 
At 8/31/2012 4:07 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Methinks,

I'm so glad somebody was still here to read that because I was actually laughing while I typed it.

I'm going for drinks. Have a great Labor Day weeked, everybody!

 
At 8/31/2012 4:18 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

Traffic controls - both "red lights" and "Walk" signs - change three times in three minutes. Apparently, the laws do not apply to the government. Also, have you ever seen spinning signs, triangular or rectangular on a pole? What about the Time & Temp on banks? Apparently, none exists in Vienna, Virginia -- or they don't change, despite changes in time and temperature, you know like a stopped clock being right twice a day...

 
At 8/31/2012 4:41 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

we had a similar kerfuffle down my way except it involved the color and how often it had movement.

The highway safety folks believe these kinds of signs are distracting to which I say No Shit.

but the highway guys are insistent that these signs will increase the number of accidents...cause personal and property injury, increase ambulance and tow truck calls, yadda yadda.

http://wisdotresearch.wi.gov/wp-content/uploads/tsrelectronicbillboards1.pdf

okay slam away...

:-)

 
At 8/31/2012 4:50 PM, Blogger Ken said...

Mike,

The minimum wage laws started to keep women out of the work force, ie sexist reasons, not racist, so it's way better.

 
At 8/31/2012 5:35 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Taypayers are paying the salary, benefits, and pension for some clown to stay on the street corner and count sign changes.

 
At 8/31/2012 7:22 PM, Blogger Oak said...

Tom said...
Taypayers are paying the salary, benefits, and pension for some clown to stay on the street corner and count sign changes.


What makes you there's just one clown? An 8 hour shift is only part of the day.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:19 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

The highway safety folks believe these kinds of signs are distracting to which I say No Shit.

but the highway guys are insistent that these signs will increase the number of accidents...cause personal and property injury, increase ambulance and tow truck calls, yadda yadda.


Ah ok. I can see that. The argument is, if the sign flips too many times then it is a distraction. Is there a reason why electronic signs are singled out as opposed to those rotating ones one sees on the highway?

 
At 9/01/2012 12:18 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

But twice per day, Jon? How slow re the cars going that say, every five minutes would be distracting?

 
At 9/01/2012 12:33 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

yeah, I'm not defending it... sounds over the top.

the problem is the highway folks have a view and then the planners get to chew on that bone and planners are Nazi's as we all know.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:51 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

the other thing - these things are going to proliferate like wildfire.

the commercial strips are going to look like Las Vegas!

 
At 9/01/2012 1:02 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

...planners are Nazi's as we all know.

Nah. They're far to disorganized and slovenly to be Nazis.

I used to live in Virginia. I'm having a hard time seeing Vegas there.

 
At 9/01/2012 1:21 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"But twice per day, Jon? How slow re the cars going that say, every five minutes would be distracting"

And at speeds that slow injuries or fatalities are unlikely.

Of course VDOT traffic information signs aren't a distraction no matter how often they change.

 
At 9/01/2012 1:37 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Without any information on why EBBs changing frequently would be a problem, other than the intuitive notion that drivers presented with a new sign might actually read it and be distracted, I would guess that the "fixed billboard lobby" is behind this.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"They can't compete with the volume....Just a thought"...

Oh mike the reasons just can't be so mundane, so common as to be about mere money can it?....:-)

I'm sure there's some sort of 'protect the public' strawman argument in there somewhere...

(seriously cool hack!) Man Claims he Can Hack Electronic Billboards with iphone – New York...

(hilarious!) Porn hacker, traffic jam creator nabbed in Novorossiisk

 

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