Back in April, when the giant advertising kiosks started popping up in our neighborhood like a bad case of acne, I took another one of my unscientific surveys. There were six of us headed to a Mavericks game, so I asked what everyone thought of the advertising monoliths. To be honest, most hadn’t noticed them. Larry said they reminded him of Paris.

I work downtown and can’t turn a corner without encountering an advertising kiosk. When I enter the central business district, I see panels advertising the “Indiana Jones” and “Sex in the City” movies or a Dolce and Gabbana ad, and as I turn into my parking garage, a leggy brunette is getting out of a car. She’s selling Cadillacs.

I’m accustomed to seeing these kiosks downtown. They fit into the urban landscape of concrete and glass. However, in our residential neighborhood they stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I know I’m not completely alone in my resentment of the intrusion of these commercial columns in Lake Highlands. Win Evans wrote a pointed letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News in April expressing several concerns with regard to the kiosks — they are a distraction to drivers, can be a public safety hazard and are replacing precious green spaces with “in your face” advertisements. Our neighborhood Councilman Jerry Allen has received several emails about the kiosk, all negative.

I knew in my heart the city must have a good rationale for allowing this kiosk propagation, so I called the City of Dallas Office of Economic Development. (It may be interesting to note here that their website has streaming streetscape scenes of the city. There are no kiosks or other forms of advertising visible in these pictures.) I ended up speaking with David Cossum, the assistant director of development services. As far as I can tell, Mr. Cossum is the go-to man on kiosks in the City of Dallas.

Cossum told me that the City Council began looking at the advertising kiosk issue in February 2004 and entered into a 20-year contract with CBS Outdoor Group, Inc. Jan. 3, 2006. CBS has the non-exclusive right to place 150 advertising kiosks within city public right-of-ways. Placement is determined by CBS. The city approves all advertising. Each kiosk has three panels. One panel on each kiosk is supposed to be dedicated to an orientation site map.

The city will receive a total of $5 million as an advance payment when 100 percent of the 150 kiosks are placed. Approximately 75 percent of the kiosks had been placed when I spoke with Cossum in May. Additionally, during the primary term of the agreement, the city receives either the Minimum Annual Guarantee (MAG) or 37 percent of CBS’ annual gross revenues from the kiosks, whichever is greater. The MAG over the 20-year agreement for 300 panels would be $14.75 million. CBS is also committed to installing $450,000 worth of street furniture, such as trash cans, benches and newsstands.

I understand why the City Council made the decision it did. They are desperately looking for funding answers. This year we’re facing a $50 million shortfall in the city budget. I’m just not sure that $1 million a year into the general fund is going to make much of a difference, especially when we are facing ever-increasing money projects like the Trinity River project and a downtown convention center hotel.

Is it worth the cost? I don’t believe advertising kiosks are in the beautification plan for Lake Highlands.

The city has sold out its neighborhoods for 300 panels of movie trailers, car ads and anything else CBS can sell (save for tobacco products), plus some street furniture. Dallas has joined the likes of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Cleveland.

I sure hope it was worth it.