HAYWARD — A plan to install a flashy LED billboard near the San Mateo Bridge tollbooth will be heard by the Planning Commission at its meeting tonight.
Clear Channel is proposing to tear down a 14-foot by 48-foot billboard on Breakwater Avenue next to the bridge approach and replace it with a new one of the same size, but with more pizazz — the LED board would flash a series of ads for 8 seconds each.
Sensors would dim the lights at night, brighten them during the day and, according to a staff report, actually would illuminate less area than the pair of 400-watt bulbs currently being used because the light would be focused into a narrow cone directed at the highway and not on nearby marshes.
The report states that the center of the beam angle would be about twice as bright as the existing lighting.
A study included in the report compared a light meter reading taken from 100 feet away from the existing billboard with a reading the same distance away from a recently installed digital billboard near the Bay Bridge and found the difference about 13 times greater within the viewing angle. However, the report says the Hayward sign will not be operated at a level that intense.
As part of the deal, five billboards in other parts of the city will be removed: one on Foothill Boulevard near the freeway onramps, one on Mission Boulevard near A Street, and three on Mission between Moreau Catholic High School and Hancock Street.
The city would also reap some free publicity: 12.5 percent of the advertising space directed at incoming traffic would be donated to promote city and community events, at no cost.
In a letter sent to the city, the East Bay Regional Park District expressed concerns about the proximity of the sign to the Hayward Regional Shoreline and its wildlife.
"While the district applauds the city for removing billboards throughout the city," reads the letter, "it should not be done to the detriment of one of the city's most vital scenic and biotic resources."
It adds that the initial environmental study was inadequate, and "relies on unsupported conclusions and fails to provide any analysis of the projected impacts," something that is disputed in the city's staff report.