WSDOT says floating billboards violate state law



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Posted on May 21, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 22 at 11:11 AM

SEATTLE – The Washington State Department of Transportation wants to sink an idea before it fully floats.

On Monday, the WSDOT said it believes an entrepreneur’s plan to float billboards on Lake Washington violates the 1971 Scenic Vistas Act.  

Dave McCormick, WSDOT’s Assistant Regional Administrator admitted “we’ve never really had anyone who wanted to advertise from a boat before.”  But he said, after reviewing a KING5 story on a plan to do just that, he believes the advertiser “can be cited for violating the law that governs billboards along freeways.”  State Law reads a violation could be punishable as a misdemeanor crime.

McCormick points to the act, designed to limit commercial billboards, as controlling law in the case.  Political signs are exempt under the law.

On Thursday, KING5 reported on Darren Bruce, and his plans to float 14x192 foot long billboards on Lake Washington, and elsewhere.  His company, ialternativemedia, has recently been testing out the inflatable posters and it has indeed, based on comments, captured the attention of drivers along the I-90 and 520 floating bridges.

WSDOT called him after the story aired, and encouraged Bruce to seek a permit to continue operating in Lake Washington, although McCormick admitted “I don’t really think he’ll be successful.”

Bruce says he is not discouraged, and felt “misinformed” by WSDOT.  The Seattle Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Police have already said there are no local regulations governing floating billboards.

Bruce says he was taken aback by the response and believes WSDOT is willing to work with him to come to an agreement.  He also says he believes WSDOT’s claim wouldn’t preclude him from floating the billboards on say, Lake Union, or near Golden Gardens Park.  McCormick seemed to agree, and admitted there are “jurisdictional issues” if Bruce proceeds with his plan.

State Law: RCW 47.42

WSDOT: Highway Advertising Control