Digital billboards will go up along Dallas highways under sign rules approved in a divided City Council vote Wednesday.
Sign companies have been pushing for digital billboards that electronically change messages every eight seconds under the Dallas rules.
Workers must climb up and change the sign on traditional billboards.
"Technology is changing, and paper and vinyl is outdated, just like the big giant cellphones we used to use," said Interim Mayor Dwaine Caraway, a former billboard owner.
But Caraway said he supported the rules because the city will require a 3-to-1 removal of old billboards for each new digital billboard that goes up.
"Without this digital opportunity, then the existing billboards that are there today are grandfathered in and do not have to come down," he said. "This new agreement will allow up to 400 or 500 billboards to come down throughout the entire city."
City staff suggested a 6-to-1 replacement rate when a digital billboard ordinance was first proposed.
"Other cities do this, and they've struck better bargains than Dallas did, and we could have done better for our citizens, and we should have done better for our citizens," Councilwoman Angela Hunt said.
The rules could allow more than 100 digital billboards within three years, a number Councilwoman Linda Koop opposed.
"I would have liked to see a pilot program by which we'd see just a few go up and then we'd see what they look like," she said.
Dallas will require digital billboards to be at least 300 feet away from homes, a greater distance than some of the city's current traditional billboards.
But Councilwoman Ann Margolin said the new electronic signs will be a nuisance.
"I fear that it could be a highway hazard, but my major concern is simply the appearance," she said. "I think that they're going to be ugly and trashy and diminish the appearance of our highways."
Caraway said the rules also require that digital signs have the ability to post public service messages in the event of emergencies.
"The spirit is to get billboards down and, without this opportunity, we would get zero down," Caraway said.