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Philadelphia considers rezoning schools to allow advertising

The idea has been around for decades, and some parts of the country have tried it: rezoning public school property to allow for advertising outside and inside schools. The idea is to sell ad space to raise money for school districts, and in these times of budget cuts and teacher layoffs, using school property to raise revenue may be attractive to some. But parents in Philadelphia have reservations.

The Philadelphia City Council Rules Committee recently approved a bill that would rezone school property to allow for advertising. However, parents and public advocates have expressed concern that commercialism already weighs too heavily on children and that ads will become a kind of "unwritten curriculum" if emblazoned on school property.

The Councilwoman who sponsored the bill indicated that alcohol and tobacco ads would be prohibited, and there may also be the possibility of restricting advertisements for unhealthy foods. She also pointed to other school districts that already sell ad space on school property. Namely, New York City reportedly brought in $6 million in revenue through school bus advertisements.

Another example is a school district in Texas that in the 1990s brought in millions of dollars by allowing Dr. Pepper to paint its logo on the rooftops of two schools that could be seen by air passengers flying into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The approval of the City Council Rules Committee does not guarantee that the proposal will be enacted in Philadelphia. The rest of the Council would also have to decide, and Philadelphia residents may want to keep an eye on the legislation to see if it passes.

Zoning disputes can arise around all kinds of property, public or private. To learn more about zoning and other real estate issues in Philadelphia, please visit our pages on real estate litigation. 

Source: philly.com, "Selling ads on school buildings wins early backing," Troy Graham and Susan Snyder, Dec. 4, 2013

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