Hear ye, hear ye! “It is unlawful for any person to paint, print, post, paste, attach or in any way affix any bill, poster, dodger, card or other advertising matter of any kind upon any post, hydrant, curb, sidewalk or other public improvement in any public ground or street…” So reads the Missoula City Code, leaving little doubt about what can be posted where (nothing; nowhere public). A walk through downtown reveals that locals either a) don’t know about the law or b) flout it with reckless abandon, since posters of all shapes, sizes and colors plaster many a pole in our fair city.
This concerns Councilman Jerry Ballas. At the Aug. 1 Council meeting he informed the public of the ban and said he had begun policing his North Higgins Avenue block by pulling down offending matter when it appeared. He also asked city workers to strip Higgins Avenue bridge poles of their vertically oriented litter, which they did last Wednesday. Ballas says this isn’t a new issue, but he feels the need to remind people and periodically get back to a clean slate—or pole, as it were.
“I’m concerned about the visual clutter that kind of destroys the ambience of our downtown community,” says Ballas, who particularly detests faded, months-old advertisements.
“There may be a need to post events, but it isn’t fair to the rest of us who have to look at it all the time,” Ballas says. “If people want to put them up, maybe they should take responsibility for taking them down.”
JR Roof, who promotes shows for The Other Side, says he shares Ballas’ concern about keeping the city clean and following the ordinance. But he also sees a need for places where events of all sorts, which benefit local businesses as well as consumers, can be publicized. He says the kiosk outside Worden’s Market is the only such space downtown, and a few more could go a long way toward centralizing Missoula’s message network.
Local independent promoter Niki Payton agrees: “It’s such a high-traffic area. It just seems to fit in with the downtown to have fliers.”