Council Vote: Kiosk Advertising Program

Today the city council was presented with 20-year contract that would allow a private company to put up advertising kiosks in commercial and mixed-use areas of the city. In return, the City would get at least $17.5M (net present dollars) over 20 years, $5M of which is upfront money, and $1.5M of which would be for improvements like benches and trashcans. The City would also get to decide the location of the kiosks, and would be allowed to use one side of the three-sided kiosk to post public information, such as city maps.

Most of these kiosks will be placed in Downtown, Uptown, and Deep Ellum. I asked my colleagues to postpone consideration for two weeks. My concern with this proposal is that we’re creating yet another obstruction in our already narrow and obstructed urban sidewalks. Go down the sidewalks along McKinney Avenue in Uptown and they’re narrow and too often obstructed with utility poles, street signs, and restaurant seating. The same is true in parts of Deep Ellum.

The City has done a terrible job of planning for and creating a quality urban environment that is pedestrian-friendly. If we’re going to add to the obstructions our pedestrians encounter, we’ve got to give them a commensurate benefit. That means making it easy for pedestrians to access the maps and public information.

The proposal today would’ve taken away the city’s control over which side of the kiosk we put the city information on. If you’ve seen the kiosks that are already on Downtown sidewalks, they look like giant billboards, they don’t make it obvious that they contain any public information, and the the maps aren’t on the most convenient or obvious side for pedestrians. (Note that these kiosks are on private property and subject to different regulations.)

ACTION: I moved to postpone the decision on this proposal for two weeks to give us time to work with the proposed vendor on making the kiosks more pedestrian-friendly.

(PASSED __ – 1)