Penn State to Present Lighting Study at American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference

Penn State University’s Philip Garvey, the Senior Research Associate at the university’s Larson Transportation Institute, will be a featured speaker at the American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference. His session, entitled “A Guide to National Sign-Illumination Standards,” will be presented on Saturday May 6 at 2:30. He will be joined by his colleague, Jennie Nolon Blanchard, and Cleveland State University Professor Alan Weinstein.

The APA website’s preview of the session states, “Take the guesswork out of developing lighting regulations for signs. Learn about new, first-of-their-kind national sign-illumination standards, based on research conducted at the Larson Transportation Institute at Pennsylvania State University.”

FASI Board Member Alan Weinstein To Speak Twice at American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference

Alan Weinstein, an acknowledged expert on planning, who holds a joint faculty appointment at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and also serves as director of the colleges’ Law & Public Policy Program, will speak at two separate sessions at the 2017 American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in May. Weinstein also serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry (FASI) and the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education (AACSRE).   

First, he will join Philip Garvey and Jennie Blanchard (from the Larson Transportation Institute at Penn State University) to present “A Guide to National Sign-Illumination Standards,” which is based on Penn State research. The APA website states, “Learn about new, first-of-their-kind national sign-illumination standards.”

Next, he will join two people who spoke with him at last year’s APA national conference when they again address the monumental SCOTUS decision of Reed vs. City of Gilbert which was unanimously determined in 2016. Weinstein will be joined by James Carpentier, the Manager of State & Local Government Affairs for the International Sign Association (ISA), who will moderate the session, and Wendy Moeller, a board member of The Signage Foundation. The session is titled “What Do We Do Post-Reed?” and the APA website states “The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert created numerous sign-regulation issues for communities. Learn about the impact of the landmark case from experts who will review the decision, examine how subsequent federal and state court decisions have applied it, investigate how several jurisdictions have responded to it, and discuss common concerns with regard to it.”

To read Professor Weinstein’s report on the 2016 APA session on Reed vs. City of Gilbert, go to http://www.fasi.org/news/2016/7/26/reed-v-gilbert-session-at-apa-convention-attract-500-people?rq=weinstein.

Reed v. Gilbert Session at APA Convention Attracts 500 People

The following article was written by FASI Board Member Alan Weinstein, who participated in the American Planning Association session.

The American Planning Association (APA) recently announced attendance figures for sessions at its annual National Conference held this past April in Phoenix, Arizona.  The session that focused on the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling on sign regulations, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ.  organized by ISA’s James Carpentier, ranked #4 in attendance out of 170 sessions, and drew nearly 500 attendees.

James worked with the APA Arizona Chapter Host Committee to have the session proposal submitted on behalf of the Host Committee, which helped to ensure the session would be accepted.  The session, which James moderated, featured four speakers:

  • Mark White Esq., Principal in White & Smith, LLC, a law firm in Lee’s Summit, Missouri;

  • Wendy Moeller, Principal in Compass Point Planning, a planning consulting firm in Blue Ash, Ohio;

  • Professor Alan C. Weinstein, a member of the FASI Board, holds a joint appointment in the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio;

  • and Karen Melby, Senior Planner for the City of Sparks, Nevada.

White led off the session with a review of the factual background of the Reed case and an analysis of the legal rules established by the case. He focused on Justice Thomas’ majority opinion that established that any regulation which, on its face, requires that government consider the content of a sign in order to determine its regulatory treatment, is content-based.

Next, Weinstein, who also serves on the Board of the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education, discussed how courts have been applying the Reed decision in challenges to sign regulations. Professor Weinstein noted that, after Reed, some courts have struck down, as content-based, regulations that had been found to be content-neutral before Reed.  He also noted that no court had yet applied Reed to regulations of commercial signs and, while most courts had ruled that Reed did not apply to regulations that distinguished between on-site and off-site signs, one federal district court had found such a regulation to be content-based under Reed.

Moeller, who also serves as a Trustee for The Signage Foundation, next discussed how local governments can revise their regulation of temporary, non-commercial signs to come into compliance with Reed. This is precisely the type of sign at issue in Reed, so, unquestionably, the case calls into doubt any content-based regulation of such signs. Moeller’s advice on this issue can be found in a recent APA publication she co-authored with Professor Weinstein: “Practice: Temporary Signs,” in the February 2016 issue of Zoning Practice.

The final speaker, Melby, discussed how the City of Sparks, Nevada, had recently adopted a content-neutral sign code. Her remarks focused not only on what the code contained, but also on the process the city had used to bring stakeholders together to reach consensus on the content-neutral approach.

What the Three Street Graphics Books Say About Signs

In 1971, the American Planning Association (APA) began distributing a book called Street Graphics and the Law, which was authored by Daniel Mandelker and William Ewald. It recommended the uncompensated taking of signs and governmental control of signs’ design, message and content.

The authors stated that their conclusions were substantially based on 1956 research conducted by Rockefeller University professor George Miller with regard to the human brain’s ability to process multiple bits of information. Yet, when Miller read the authors’ assessment of his research, he observed “The situation would be amusing if misrepresentations of my work were not being taken as the basis for enacting ordinances to control street graphics . . . I must strongly protest the distortion of my own work and must deplore the enactment of restrictions based on such an inadequate understanding of the psychological processes involved.” Miller’s 1000-word letter that denounces Street Graphics‘ interpretation of his work appeared in the April 1973 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.

In the following decade, several Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions overruled some tenets of the book. Subsequently, in 1988, the same authors revised the book as Street Graphics. It retreated from many of its restraint of trade recommendations, yet the majority of it remained intact.

In 2005, the third version, entitled Street Graphics and the Law, was released, and a third author, from the sign industry, was listed on the cover as a principal author. He wrote one chapter that included some Penn State legibility tables. Most of the rest of the book remained intact, but, by implication, it appeared that the sign industry endorsed the entire book.

Thus, this third version was viewed as significantly flawed, but a slight improvement over the first two versions. The question still remains, how good must good enough be? Two separate discussions of the 2005 book appear in the January 2005 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.

FASI Board Member Prof. Alan Weinstein Addresses APA Conference about Reed v. Gilbert

Law professor Alan Weinstein, a board member of the newly formed Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry, was one of three people associated with sign-industry groups who spoke at a session on sign regulation at the American Planning Association annual conference, April 4, in Phoenix, Arizona. Speakers at  the session, entitled “Regulating Signs after Reed v. Town of Gilbert,” also included Wendy Moeller, AICP, a board member of the The Signage Foundation, and James Carpentier, the Director of State & Local Government Affairs for the International Sign Association.

Weinstein holds a joint faculty appointment at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and also serves as director of the colleges’ Law & Public Policy Program. A recognized expert on planning law, he has written more than 80 articles/books on this subject. http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/STMG/sott_201508/index.php#/66 includes his observations on Reed v. Gilbert’s ramifications, and he also wrote an article about this for The Signage Foundation (SFI), http://www.thesignagefoundation.org/Portals/0/SFI%20Analysis_State%20of%20Sign%20Codes%20After%20Reed.pdf

Weinstein twice presented at the National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC) at the University of Cincinnati. NSREC is presented annually by SFI. Weinstein also serves on the Board of Directors of the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education (AACSRE), a group of 17 universities with a common interest in sign-related research.  

What are Some Recommendations for Regulating Temporary Signage?

Writing sign codes can be challenging for city planners and administrators who have had no formal training abut the nuances of on-premise signage. But a sub-category of this task, writing regulations specifically for temporary signage, presents an even more perplexing problem.

Wendy Moeller, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based planner (AICP), who recently served as president of the Ohio chapter of the American Planning Association, wrote a treatise of recommendations for temporary signage for the research-oriented Signage Foundation, for which she also serves as a board member. The full report, which includes assessments as to how temporary-signage regulations have and will change in lieu of the landmark Reed v. Gilbert SCOTUS case decided in July 2015, can be read at http://www.thesignagefoundation.org/Portals/0/SFI%20Analysis_State%20of%20Sign%20Codes%20After%20Reed.pdf.