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The clutter of billboards in the city of Los Angeles is notorious. They have more than 3,000 ILLEGAL billboards littering their streets and hillsides. On the other coast, Manhattan’s Times Square sports a Target billboard measuring 23,000 square feet. That’s half a football field. Some billboards across the country actually promote travel to Hawaii.
The largest billboard in Hawaii measures … wait! There is no billboard in Hawaii to measure. Anywhere. On any of the islands.
We had a bunch of them back in 1925. That’s when a group called The Outdoor Circle (TOC) got cranky and started raising some hell.
TOC had been founded back in 1912 by seven local women, wives of Hawaii power brokers, to engage in efforts to beautify Hawaii – specifically, to “keep Hawaii clean, green and beautiful.” The members planted Monkeypod trees in parks and Bougainvillea along the banks of streams and have since devoted themselves to the beautification of the islands. Their activities now include environmental education for island children, and ongoing battles to have utility wires placed underground and to eliminate illegal and inappropriate business signs, all of which must have permits. No, aerial ads and banners aren’t permitted either.
TOC also has helped prevent hundreds of ill-conceived land-use plans and inappropriate development from moving forward. Members — there are more than 3,500 now — stay active in government relations, serving on numerous boards and task forces. When deemed necessary, The Outdoor Circle also gets involved in court battles to protect the scenic environment. Good people to have around.
A lot of visitors to these islands are awed by the scenery, views and natural splendor seen from just about every perspective in all directions on all the islands, but they often return home without realizing they hadn’t seen a single billboard.