The new major of Amman, Omar Maani, seems to be serious in fixing some of the problems Amman faces.
Some columnists in the media are trying to portray the major as someone who is only doing ‘cosmetic’ things. This is simply untrue.
The Greater Amman municipality is working on a comprehensive master plan (that will specify the exact land use for every plot of land in Amman, for example), public transport development, pedestrian friendly solutions and green areas. Amman is in a rather big mess, and dealing with this mess is a big job that the GAM seem to have started tackling (I will leave talking about the GAM’s plans for another post).
Yet with all this structural/deep work, our city needs quick interventions. One of them is the Sign Epidemic. Responsible for this, for decades, were the lax building codes (or their lax implementation) that resulted in complete facades being covered up in tasteless, chaotic visual junk.
Also responsible for this is the TOTAL lack of aesthetic awareness among shop and building owners, who only care about one thing: that their sign is larger than their neighbors (which is a primitive form of competition).
And then we have the billboard companies. The only thing they care about is to put up more and more and MORE rooftop advertising billaboard$$$$$$$$$$.
I am not against advertising billboards. And yes, on the concrete side of a building, a standard billboard (3×4m) can look good. Even unipoles are acceptable on some roads.
But I am against the prostitution of every building facade and every street for marketing purposes.
Now the GAM is on a collision course with the billboard companies, as reported in Al Ghad today. The companies are using a really dumb tactic, saying that 15,000 families who live off the billboard business will be become HOMELESS. I am not making this up!! Why didn’t they immediately also cry MASSACRE!
They are using member of parliament Raed Qaqish as their mouthpiece and are harassing the GAM with such claims of livelihood stealing.
Come on people!
It’s as if the GAM is saying that the whole billboard business will be wiped off the face of Jordan.
According to what I know, the GAM met numerous times with the companies and suggested numerous solutions. Now the billboard companies are saying that THEIR suggestions have not been accepted.
My personal feeling is that the GAM should simply stay the course. If this reaches a confrontation with the billboard offenders so be it. The billboarders have held our skylines, facades and streets hostage for too long.
I would advise both the GAM and the billboarders to go public with their suggestions so that one can jusge what is better for Amman.
The GAM has been too lax in the past (maybe it was happy to get some revenue out of the billboard permits). Amman looks like a third rate, third world city.
Going after the rooftops is not enough. The second, even more important, step for GAM is to crackdown on shop and building signs. I mean just look at how horrible Gardens Street or, even more depressing, how Downtown looks.
Economic freedom should not mean the freedom to trash our cities. The bollboarders should save their jobs by doing their job with more professionalism and responsibility (instead of claiming that their families will hunger!).
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