Council Member David Yassky of Brooklyn is calling for the city to begin allowing advertising on municipal trash cans and suggested that such a move, which he estimated could bring $2.5 million in revenue, would help during difficult economic times. “We need to be as creative as we can about finding sources of revenues to ease the burden on taxpayers,” Mr. Yassky said yesterday. “We sold advertising on newsstands and bus shelters and other so-called street furniture. There’s just no reason not to extend that to trash cans.” Mr. Yassky’s push for trash can ads is the latest in a series of moves to expand public advertising, a lucrative source of income for the city. Council Member Melinda Katz introduced legislation last year that would allow advertising rights to be sold for construction sheds and scaffolding, many of which are currently covered with illegal posters. The bill, which has more than 30 co-sponsors, has not been brought to the floor for a vote.
2.5 million sure sounds like a lot of money to help with these difficult economic times, but let’s look at what the residents of this city get when Council Members like David Yassky and Melinda Yatz hand over public space and city property to corporations. NYC’s budget for 2009 is $59,100,000,000 and putting ads on trash cans would raise 2.5 million. Since those numbers are so large, I created this visualization:
It wasn’t easy to create a chart because the 2.5 million amount is so relatively small. Can you see the dot down at the bottom? At 0.004 percent of the current budget, it’s not a lot of money.
Additionally, the city can’t afford to shoot itself in the foot anymore after making billion dollar deals with CEMUSA to put ads all over town. They’ve since been tied up in courts with advertising bandits FUEL outdoor, who have placed illegal signs all over the city. When FUEL was called on it, they claimed the city was in the advertising business themselves (citing the CEMUSA deal) and therefor in a conflict of interest. As brilliant an argument as it is sleazy.
Regulating illegal activity to capitalize on it wont make the city more livable. Council members Yassky and Katz need to remember, people don’t want more ads. They want trees. Times Square is an interesting place to visit, but no one wants to live there. If the city wants to make money, enforce laws against illegal advertising, increase the fines, and make a more livable city at the same time.