Council on Wednesday moved closer to allowing street-level newsstands to display large digital advertisements.
Over objections from neighborhood activists, the Streets Committee advanced a bill that would let newsstand owners display the ads if they pay the city a 7 percent excise tax.
Some residents in Center City, where much of the advertising would be, said the bill could change the nature of their neighborhood.
Philadelphia is a historic city; it s a romantic city, said David Rose, who lives and owns a business in Center City. All of a sudden it s being transformed into a Las Vegas-like, Times Square atmosphere. You re changing the character of the community. More than two-dozen newsstand owners attended the meeting to support the bill, introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee.
With newspaper and magazine sales declining, the owners said they could use the additional revenue to keep their businesses going.
Greenlee said the bill will also help the city's bottom line, although only "a little bit."
He added that the signs could improve safety at night.
This bill will add some vitality to some blocks particularly in Center City, particularly after the normal business hours that are rather dark and uninviting, Greenlee said.
Regulations on how bright the signs can be are still being debated. Council could take up the bill as early as next week.