Sketched Feb. 19, 2014
Almost five years ago, for my first Seattle Sketcher column, I drew a part of Aurora Avenue that a local politician had called “visual garbage.”
Now some of that blight seems to have spread downtown. Buildings are doubling as billboards, with giant ads plastered on their sides like big, ugly Band-Aids.
Take the Oxford Apartments at First Avenue and Stewart Street for example. As if a standalone billboard wasn’t enough, two other ads cover almost every brick in sight. Just around the block I found more “wallscapes” advertising iPhones, boots, cameras and rental car companies.
The city has just begun debating the current sign code to put a stop to this “Ad-maggedon.” Limiting the size of the ads is one way to go, but I’m afraid that won’t make much of a difference. How about banning outdoor advertisement altogether, as they did in São Paulo several years ago?
My Brazilian friend says the quality of life there has greatly improved since the ban. “Less distractions, looks cleaner … The ads were visual pollution.”