November 12, 2008
Bye-bye, AGDs

City Council has followed through on its plan to ban so-called Attention Getting Devices, or AGDs.

The ban will not go into effect until January 2010. But scenic advocates cheered the decision, saying the prohibition is a necessary step to clean up Houston's blighted highways and cluttered streetscapes.


Council voted 9-2 to ban the devices. Councilwomen Anne Clutterbuck and Pam Holm voted against.

Holm said she did not want to tell small businesses what type of advertising media they could use: "As an elected person it's not up to me to establish the business plans."

Clutterbuck expressed concern about the ban's exception for non-commercial and holiday displays."

Deciding whether an inflatable Santa Claus is a celebratory holiday use or a commercial use to promote sales is going to confuse the sign inspectors, Clutterbuck said.

"I worry about the enforceability and constitutionality of incorporating this into our law," she said.

I think CM Clutterbuck raises a good point, though I presume the City Attorney has given an opinion on the constitutionality matter. As I said before, I'm ambivalent about this. I guess I just don't think it's that big a deal one way or the other. We'll see if someone kicks up a fuss about it.

UPDATE: I suppose this would be the end of Al Harrington's wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men emporium.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 12, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

If you don't think it's a big deal, then you should be against it, as you should be against any curtailment of freedom of speech. One man's eyesore is another man's livelihood.

Posted by: joewhite on November 12, 2008 11:40 PM

The thing I've heard is that it's a very vague definition, and a lot of businesses and organizations will not know whether or not their displays qualify as "an attention getting device". If a gallery or museum puts a piece of art outside, would that be banned by the ordinance?

Posted by: 'stina on November 13, 2008 5:19 PM

Seems like the pro AGDS crowd is using the "slippery slope" argument - "one day the gub'ment is going to come into my house and tell me what I can put on my own walls"! If all you've got is the slippery slope argument, you've got nothing in my book. This was the same argument that Senator Rick Santorum so eloquently used to say that allowing gay marriage would one day lead to "man and turtle" marriage. Yeah. Gorilla on an automobile dealership is pretty easy to define, folks. I'm happier with arguing over the border cases than just saying "anything goes".

>>One man's eyesore is another man's livelihood.

Sounds like someone is in need of a better livelihood than making giant inflatable gorillas.

Posted by: Mike on November 13, 2008 11:03 PM
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