December 12, 2007
More billboard reductions coming?

Looks like we're about to have some more action on the billboard-reduction front.

Under a proposed ordinance, billboard owners could remove some signs in exchange for relocating other ones, city officials said.

The exchange would be based on the size of the signs. For example, owners would be allowed to remove three 100-square-foot signs, then relocate a 300-square-foot sign, city officials said. The billboards could not be relocated to scenic districts.

The City Council is expected to consider the plan this morning.

The measure is similar to an agreement city officials struck with Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. this week.

That agreement requires Clear Channel to remove two-thirds, or 881, of its 1,347 small and medium-sized billboards from private property.

The firm would remove all of its 6-foot-by-12-foot signs and 39 percent of its 12-foot-by-20-foot billboards within 180 days of the date the agreement becomes effective.

The 20-year agreement requires the company's remaining 466 billboards to be upgraded. Some wooden signs in disrepair, for example, would be rebuilt as metal billboards.


Scenic Houston, a city beautification group, opposes the deal and the proposed ordinance, said Carroll Shaddock, the organization's founding chairman.

Shaddock said the city's 1980 sign ordinance prohibits the construction of new billboards. The proposed ordinance and Clear Channel's agreement would allow it through sign relocation, he said.

"We appreciate and understand the good indentions of Mayor White and Councilmember Holm," Shaddock said, "but we think the approach of permitting the construction of new billboards is a terrible mistake. We hope that a modification, or, if necessary, a withdrawal of the proposed agreement, will be possible."

City officials said the ordinance and the agreement would reduce the number of billboards. The proposed ordinance and the Clear Channel agreement are the latest measures that have grown out of the city's efforts to reduce the number of off-premise signs.

My feeling about this is the same as before. In general, fewer billboards is a good thing, but I'd still like to know the details. What are the rules and restrictions for placing or relocating a billboard going to be? Will they be allowed in places where they currently are not found? Is there a cap on billboard density? What recourse, if any, exists for folks who object to the placement of a particular billboard? My inclination is to support this, but I want to read the fine print first.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 12, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston