2011 - Initiated Measures and Lawsuit
On April 4, 2011, two initiated measures were approved for the June 7th election ballot. Both measures addressed rules regarding billboards in Rapid City. The First measure banned new digital signs and regulated sizes for static signs. The second measure set a 20-year expiration date on sign credits.
On the same day, Lamar Advertising submitted applications for converting twelve traditional signs to digital billboards. The applications were denied due to the requirement that all new and modified billboards must receive a conditional use permit. Lamar argued that the permits were not required under the sign code, but a hearing with the city still denied the applications.
When the initiated measures came to a vote in June, they were both passed by voters. Then, in August, Lamar Advertising a lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit cited the billboard ordinances created by the initiated measures. The lawsuit eventually ended up before the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Lamar Advertising on October 31st, 2012.
2012 - Sign Code Changes
In 2012, the Legal & Finance Committee began consideration of three ordinances that would change and/or replace the existing sign code. The ordinances were discussed at the February and march meetings. At the May meeting, the ordinances were placed on a Special Meeting City Council Agenda for May 14th. At that meeting, the ordinances were given a first reading and modifications were voted on. The first readings were continued to the May 30th meeting of Legal & Finance which sent them to the council without recommendation.
The full City Council considered the ordinances on June 4th (items 49-51). The first reading initially failed, but after further discussion all three passed. The three ordinances passed a second reading on June 18th, becoming chapter 15.28, 15.29, and 15.30 of the Rapid City Municipal Code.
Lamar vs. City of Rapid City (2014) resulted in Judge Jeffrey Viken finding several parts of the sign code were invalid under South Dakota law. Lamar also filed a suit in federal court, seeking $10 million in lost revenue under Rapid City's sign code. In March 2016, Rapid City reached a settlement with Lamar Advertising. Among the conditions, Rapid City would pay $100,000, the ban on digital billboards would be repealed, and the distance between signs would be decreased.
Epic Outdoor Advertising filed a lawsuit of their own in December 2012. The lawsuit opposes the sign credit system, as the credits are no longer usable. Furthermore, Epic believed Rapid City violated state and federal law with the changes to the sign code. In 2018, Rapid City reached a settlement with Epic, which included additional amendments to the sign code by the city.
Photos of billboards used throughout Rapid City's history can be found in Rapid City Public Library's Local History Archive. Alongside the photographs are scans of articles about a 2002 revision of the sign code.