The mayor said he shares the same goal as opponents of his proposal: reducing the number of billboards in Houston. He said he wants to use this common ground to craft a consensus.
During the ensuing negotiations, White should answer the charge that most of the 881 billboards would come down anyway by 2013, without having to allow hundreds of new billboards in locations now free of the large signs, or along federal highways where they would be protected in perpetuity.
Beautification groups should explain why, if the small billboards are no longer profitable, they still blight low-income neighborhoods.
Unsightly billboards detract from Houston's quality of life and contributed to the failure of its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. The city should pursue the strategy that will reduce the most billboards in the next few years without presenting hundreds of billboards a new lease on life and their owners' permission to blight locations now billboard-free.
Identifying that strategy will be the task of White's administration and billboard opponents.