Scenic Houston’s roots are deep, born in a local advocacy effort to battle the unregulated proliferation of billboards in our city. By 1980 the number of billboards in the city grew to over 10,000, and Houston became known in the press as the “Billboard Capital of the World”. Leaders saw this as an economic development black eye, and the City Council passed ordinances prohibiting new billboard construction in the city and surrounding area. As a result, by 2010, the number of billboards in Houston had dropped by 82%, to fewer than 1500.
Scenic Houston began its public policy work in 1991, led by local attorney and Founding Chairman Carroll Shaddock, advocating for further restraints on billboards and also a broad agenda of scenic initiatives including freeway landscaping, scenic district development, more effective on-premise sign regulation and enhanced design standards for public projects. Most significantly, the Houston City Council passed an ordinance mandating that all billboards in Houston be removed by 2013, except for signs continuing to have legal protection. Houston has now seen 84% of its billboards removed within both its city limits and its extraterritorial jurisdiction area (ETJ), together constituting over 600 square miles.
Today, Scenic Houston’s focus is on its Streetscape Project, conducting an inventory of all public regulations that impact the visual aspects of Houston’s streets and public spaces, leading to a unique streetscape guidebook and recommendations for specific improvements. Scenic Houston also administers the statewide Scenic City Certification Program to evaluate Texas municipalities’ scenic standards for public roadways and public spaces. Visit www.sceniccitycertification.org. In 2012, Scenic Houston will partner with the Greater Houston Sign Association in a program to remove derelict, abandoned on-premise signs from city streets.
Scenic Houston preserves and enhances the visual character of Houston. Scenic Houston promotes sign control, billboard reduction, freeway landscaping, scenic byway development, and enhanced design standards for public projects. Our success improves the quality of life for all Houstonians.