Cities along the Peninsula are looking at adding electronic billboards in an effort to bolster city revenue and promote community events and Millbrae is the latest to be added to this list.
The city is in the bidding process of selecting companies to install media signs along Highway 101 and the city hopes to get signs in by the end of the year. Two locations identified as feasible for digital signs include the location of an existing billboard sign south of the Millbrae Avenue exit between the Aloft Hotel property and Cowan Canal and north of the Millbrae Avenue exit on the north bank of the Highline Drainage Canal, according to a staff report. There are close to 10 bidders, said Mayor Wayne Lee. Signs could net Millbrae more than $100,000 per year, he said.
“Around the airport is the area of interest — that’s my feeling,” he said. “It’s not just about the money — it’s about publicizing Millbrae and its events.”
The city of Burlingame recently put on hold plans for adding media signs along Highway 101 because of concerns about safety hazards and disturbances to nearby residences. Other nearby cities have considered such signs, including Belmont, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Cities that currently have electronic media signs include East Palo Alto and San Carlos.
“I think Burlingame’s concerns are very valid,” Lee said. “The benefits outweigh the challenges though here. They’d be small, appropriately sized signs.”
The city has been discussing bringing media signs to the city for a while, but it was in 2013 that the discussion came up again. A request for proposals was issued for digital and traditional billboard signs on April 25. Lee is open to looking at putting signs on El Camino Real as well. The city has also identified five other potential sites for electronic media signs or traditional billboards. None of these are along Highway 101, according to the staff report.
Other councilmembers seem to be in favor of signs as well.
“I think the location that we have identified is an excellent location — by Aloft along 101,” said Councilman Reuben Holober. “It’s not near a residential area and it’s on a small strip of land that the city doesn’t have much use for.”
Bringing electronic signs to Millbrae is something the city has been discussing for while, said Councilwoman Marge Colapietro.
“Now that there’s some time to take a good look at this — that’s what we’re doing,” she said. “The advantage of having it is to be able to have it visible to as many people as possible. We have an opportunity to promote what goes on in the Millbrae community. Maybe [get people to] pull off the road and come and ... join us and attend our community activities.”
It also gives the city an opportunity to have some kind of agreement with the provider of the media sign to financially benefit from advertisements with franchise fees commissions, Colapietro said.
“I’m hoping it will be a win-win for the public and a win-win for the city,” she said.
The City Council will have to approve such signs, but there is yet to be a date slated for a vote.
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