Help us say NO to favored status for billboard companies There’s a new threat in the Texas Legislature with the potential to be very costly and reverse decades of hard-fought progress regarding billboards and where they are located. Senate Bill 898, filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), and its companion, House Bill 2806, filed by state Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), would grant billboard companies special rights not afforded to any other Texas business or property owner.
These special rights would kick in anytime billboards are impacted by highway construction. Gone would be all local control over where the new billboards go, how tall they are and the messages they display. City approval would be automatic. Houston in the 1970s Under existing law billboard companies are treated the same as everyone else and provided fair compensation for sign relocations due to highway work. The proposed new legislation threatens to upend that process and eliminate our ability to have a say in what happens in our city. They will set a dangerous and expensive precedent for all other property owners to say, “What about me,” and ask for the same special treatment.
Endless litigation will slow roadway construction, and the state will face massive increases in highway construction costs. Of particular concern is how this legislation will impact the approximately 60 billboards expected to come down as part of the realignment of I-45 through downtown Houston. Utilizing the courts, regulation and negotiation with the billboard companies, Houston has successfully reduced the number of billboards in our neighborhoods and along our roadways by the thousands. A City ordinance enacted in 1980, considered among the strongest in the nation, prohibits the construction of new billboards and limits the height of existing signs to no more than 42 feet.
Some relocations have been allowed over the years but only in exchange for industry concessions to demolish hundreds of other billboards. It has been decades since Houstonians had to worry about waking up to the bright lights and blocked views caused by a new billboard in their neighborhood.
Today, we have miles of Houston-area freeways and toll roads with no billboards. You can help us fight back by sending letters of opposition to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make sure your letters make their way to the lawmakers in Austin.