We appreciate the recent attention from The Shredder ("Pass the kouchie," Dec. 14) to the current efforts of Protect Scenic 101 (PS 101), for San Luis Obispo County to pursue obtaining a California Scenic Highway designation for a portion of Highway 101 in the county and for eliminating the billboards on that stretch of the road.
Multiple benefits are expected from the state's formal recognition of Highway 101's scenic attributes, most particularly to our local tourism economy. Billboard elimination is the main focus of PS 101, for residents to enjoy restored scenic views and for enhanced tourism. Both Monterey and Santa Barbara counties, our primary tourism competitors, have eliminated billboards and all but a couple remain in Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara County now has a Scenic Highway designated on a portion of 101.
PS 101 is encouraging landowners with billboard leases on their properties to consider the federal tax benefits of scenic conservation easements to retire their billboards. Regarding billboard companies, although their investments in billboard structures are relatively minor, federal tax amounts they can claim and amortize for retired billboards are substantial.
Billboards impose visual clutter upon the traveling public within this county's Highway 101 corridor, which the public owns. Billboards detract from the scenic views along 101, SLO County's most traveled highway. PS 101 supports implementation of existing general plan policies of the county, as well as the cities of SLO and Pismo Beach, both for a designated California Scenic Highway and billboard elimination.
County supervisors should not further delay an application for a California Scenic Highway for Highway 101.
Protect Scenic 101 coordinator