Floating billboards: Can commercial advertising in the Coastal Zone be regulated?

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This article addresses federal, state, and local regulatory regimes for controlling commercial advertising in coastal waters. It focuses on a new method of outdoor advertising that utilizes a billboard towed by a tug in coastal waters. Specifically, it explores the extent to which legal action to regulate advertising from floating billboards in U.S. waters could withstand constitutional scrutiny. The issue is examined within the contexts of commercial speech and navigational servitude. Additionally, the article discusses the preservation of viewscapes along the coast and the applicability of the public trust doctrine. Jurisdictional issues are examined along with the role of states' harbor management plans and local ordinances in regulating commerce and providing anchorage limitations. The article argues that regulation of floating billboards must not necessarily be based on aesthetics, but the public trust doctrine. The article concludes that the language of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and interpretations of its scope, as well as Supreme Court decisions in favor of aesthetic zoning, support the inclusion of such regulations in states' coastal zone management plans.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Coastal Management