Austin to look at ban on aerial advertising - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Austin to look at ban on aerial advertising

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For 35 years, Don Arsenault has been towing banners with his airplanes.

"Ninety percent of the banners I do now are over I-35 and MoPac and some over downtown," said Arsenault. "Occasionally I'll get a 'will you marry me' banner or a birthday banner or something like that."

He has a waiver from the FAA allowing him to do that, but he fears his business may be in jeopardy. Austin City Council members are looking into restricting or banning aerial advertising.

"We started getting lots of calls from residents in areas impacted by this. It usually happens during event weeks and we've gotten calls, emails," said council member Kathie Tovo.

Video sent to FOX 7 by Austin resident David King shows banner-towing planes flying over the Zilker neighborhood. "It's become more noticeable in the past 2 years, 2 to 3 years." Zilker neighborhood resident Pierre Riou said the planes are loud and disruptive.

"I have read on the email list for the Zilker Neighborhood Association, complaints by dozens of my neighbors who, this is an issue of concern for them," Riou told FOX 7.

On a big event like ACL or F1, those banner-towing planes are pretty common.

"During those events there are typically multiple planes towing banners from sunrise to sunset circling over and over and over again, passing over residences and the park," said Riou.

"We're an advertising medium, just like a newspaper or anything else, so when you have a big event that brings in a lot of people, that's when I make my revenue," said Arsenault.

While residents say they have the right to peacefully enjoy their homes, Arsenault argues he has the right to work.

"This is how I support my family. How could they come in and tell me that I could no longer operate here because out of 1.1 million people in this area, a handful have complained over the last 35 years that I'm creating a nuisance."

According to an FAA spokesperson, the FAA regulates aircraft operating in civilian airspace. Thursday, council members will look into whether they can legally restrict or ban aerial advertising.

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