A search of Google News Archives for "Ferlo" and "billboards" serves up an interesting history. I remember covering these stories in my radio days, back when State Senator Jim Ferlo was a City Councilman.
Here's an excerpt from a 2002 profile of Ferlo by Rich Lord, who was then with Pittsburgh City Paper:
...Ferlo has put government’s clamps, though, on one major industry: outdoor advertising.
In 1993, Ferlo surprise-attacked the billboard industry with an ordinance that essentially barred companies from putting up new billboards. Even boards removed for road projects or as a result of building demolitions couldn’t be replaced, and the industry fought hard against the bill, says Don Brown, public affairs director for Lamar Outdoor Advertising. “We were trying to fight to keep what we had,” says Brown, noting that some of his company’s highest-revenue signs are within city limits. “He organized the usual suspects, like the Sierra Club and other groups,” and got them to testify at public hearings, Brown says. “He was constantly lobbying council, going up and down the hall, like I was. … We lost by one vote.”
Since then, the industry has occasionally gone to court and won the right to replace some billboards. But Ferlo’s legislation has hurt. “It reduces the number we have, which in turn reduces the revenue we have,” Brown says. “Because I don’t think [Ferlo] has ever had a business responsibility, [there are times] when I don’t think he understands the realities of business.”...
Here are some select Google News headlines from the 90s.
Apr 5, 1992 - That's what happened with Councilman Jim Ferlo. Last week, he proposed freezing the number of billboards in the city. ... But Ferlo is on the right track. Along Becks Run Road, the local complaint has to do with clutter. A new set of 13 billboards obliterates what used to be a woodsy view. ...From CITY TAKES A STEP TO RIGHT THE WRONG OF BILLBOARD... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Aug 25, 1992 - City Councilman Jim Ferlo of District 9'proposed zoning amendments that would also keep billboards off the riverfronts and only in ... Ferlo said that there are billboards in the which he thinks is too many. One of the pieces of legislation submitted by Ferlo calls for fees charged to ..From News Record (Newspaper) - August 25, 1992, North... - North Hills News Record ($$)
Jan 26, 1993 - City Councilman Jim Ferlo introduced the proposed billboard ordinances last summer. He charged yesterday that the city Planning Commission has been ''stalling" on his bills. One would reduce the maximum size of billboards to 450 square feet from the existing limit of 1200 square feet. ...From BILLBOARD LIMITS SOUGHT - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Feb 28, 1993 - City Councilman Jim Ferlo said yesterday that the 1561 letters he mailed at city expense during February covered three subjects -- billboards, ... Ferlo is leading an effort for greater city controls over the size and location of billboards and is helping merchants deal with the problem of ...
From FERLO DEFENDS LETTER WRITING AT CITY'S COST - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Mar 31, 1993 - "I resent the (sign) industry calling my bill a radical abolition of billboards," Ferlo said. "That isn't the case. This is reasonable regulation." A second bill by Ferlo, which would have capped the number of billboards in Pittsburgh at the present number of 1400, was defeated by the ...From CITY PANEL RESTRICTS NEW BILLBOARDS - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Mar 17, 1993 - Councilman Jim Ferlo, who last year drafted his own billboard-control rules, complained that Zottola's proposals merely "rubber-stamp what the industry wants. ... Ferlo wants a 378-square-foot limit. The billboard study committee recommended 1000 feet between signs on major roads, the distance ...From RIFT STALLS BILLBOARD CONTROLS - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Now, mixing in headlines from a PG archive search with the Google archive:
The city Planning Commission approved tough restrictions on new billboards yesterday, leading one advertising official to accuse the panel of trying to ''wipe out" the sign industry.CITY PANEL RESTRICTS NEW BILLBOARDS
The commission voted 4-1 in favor of the tighter regulations on the size, height and location of billboards, which were proposed by Councilman Jim Ferlo, a longtime billboard critic. Outdoor advertising officials vowed to carry the fight to City Council, which has the final...
Date: March 31, 1993 Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Page Number: B-1 Word Count: 503
Apr 16, 1993 - (This is a test about billboards. Pick one of the following options.From BOTH SIDES DISPLAY OPINIONS ON BILLBOARDS - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Choice 1: Legislation proposed by city Councilman Jim Ferlo to limit the
size, height and location of outdoor advertising signs is an "extremist" measure that will have a "catastrophic impact" on local jobs, on small businesses that need a low-cost way to reach customers and on charitable groups that receive free space for their messages. Choice 2: Ferlo's) Ferlo said his bill was a compromise. Some hard-line billboard foes favor more drastic measures, such as ridding the city completely of signs or to prevent certain products, such as alcohol and tobacco, from being advertised. John Stephen of Friends of the Riverfront said the bill would make ...
Sep 30, 1993 - Billboard restrictions tentatively approved PITTSBURGH City Council has tentatively approv- ed a bill to restrict new billboards and even ban them in the city's Downtown section. Council members voted 5-3 Wednesday in favor of the which was sponsored by Councilman Jim Ferlo and faces a final ...From The Valley Independent (Newspaper) - September... - Valley Independent, The ($$)
Oct 6, 1993 - The life or death of new billboard regulations in Pittsburgh may rest in the hands of City Councilwoman Michelle Madoff. ... Madoff's vote would be needed in the event that Mayor Masloff, as expected, vetoed new billboard regulations that were approved by City Council yesterday. ...From BILLBOARD BILL VETO WOULD GET MADOFF TO RETURN - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Jun 15, 1994 - Pittsburgh's skyline will become littered with visual pollution if Downtown businesses are not prohibited from putting up rooftop signs, say proponents of a bill before the city Planning Commission. Critics of the bill, proposed by council members Jim Ferlo and Christopher Smith, call it an unnecessary invasion of property rights. Although new billboards have been banned from Downtown, business identification signs are legal, and some city officials fear an outbreak of rooftop signs. ...From PANEL HEARS PROS, CONS OF BILL ON ROOFTOP SIGNS - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
From SIGNS TO COME PITTSBURGH NEEDS A CONSENSUS ON HOW... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ($$)
Jan 13, 1995 - [ For more than half a year, the city Planning Commission, the Department of Planning and City Council worked on a plan by Councilman Jim Ferlo to severely restrict corporate signs in the Golden Triangle.
Last month, business and labor came out in force at a public hearing to give their views on the legislation. The impact of their testimony was so devastating that, afterward, it appeared the only council member in favor of the bill was Jim Ferlo. This is not how good legislation is made.] Council President Ferlo has distinguished himself as someone who cares about the appearance of Pittsburgh. He is a defender of its vistas, a guardian of its skyline. He worked for years on legislation to regulate billboards and ultimately was successful in enacting a law that balanced the ...
From Pittsburgh Companies Rush to Put Their Names in... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh,... (Free with registration)
Oct 15, 2000 - "No longer is taking a billboard on the parkway or an ad in the newspaper considered to be enough visibility. ... City Councilman Jim Ferlo, who considers Mellon's headquarters sign to be "a green, obnoxious blob," is pushing for legislation to ban all rooftop signs from going up in the Golden ...
Jun 29, 2001 - 29--The large Heinz Field signs to be erected on the new football stadium are actually "billboards" used for advertising and aren't permitted on ... any kind can be erected on the North Shore because of a sign moratorium imposed in October by City Council, at the urging of Councilman Jim Ferlo. ...From Pittsburgh Steelers, Civic Group Face Off over... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh,... (Free with registration)
Jan 5, 2003 - By his own count, Ferlo has had a "couple hundred" bills and resolutions passed in his 15 years on council. He sponsored legislation that tightened restrictions on billboards, defeating a powerful interest group in the process. He was instrumental in getting the Citizen Police Review Board ...From Scorpion or warrior? Feisty Jim Ferlo leaves... - Pittsburgh Post Gazette