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Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum Tackles Predatory Pollution

They clutter our crosswalks, distract our driving, and pollute our public spaces . . .

flapping in the wind on fences, high up on telephone poles or along the freeway, littering our neighborhoods with promises of quick cash, jobs, cheap medical supplies, psychic readings and more. When one gets removed, two more pop up in its place overnight.

Ugly and a source of visual clutter in our neighborhoods, bandit signs are also highly predatory. Their lure of easy money can be hard to resist for the desperate and vulnerable residents of Houston.

They carry the name bandit signs because they are illegal and the businesses using them are fully aware they are breaking the law. Many offenders consider current fines simply a cost of doing business even with some penalties totaling $300k plus a year. Meanwhile, the cost incurred by the City of Houston to remove and clean up these spaces continues to climb.

Scenic Houston champions the removal of visual blight and applauds City of Houston Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum for once again spearheading legislation needed to increase fines and prevent further proliferation of this predatory pollution. This legislation (Senate Bill 190), filed by State Sen. Boris Miles (D-Houston) for the current Texas state legislative session was previously requested during the 2021 session and passed the Texas Senate but stalled in the Texas House.

The proposed bill maintains the first offense fine at $1,000 but adds penalties of $2,500 for a second violation and $5,000 for third and subsequent violations. In addition to the stiffer fines, SB190 would allow cities and counties to fine the businesses advertised on the signs without proving those businesses authorized the placement of the bandit signs. The legislation would not apply to political signs, or an occasional yard sign removed in a timely manner.

Council Member Castex-Tatum’s staff works hard to round up bandit signs in her district, but she says it seems futile given the magnitude of the problem. According to numbers publicized during the 2021 legislative session, the City confiscates 3,174 bandit signs, issues 25 citations, and receives 87 bandit sign complaints per month.

Miles’ legislation would also add hefty civil penalties to the criminal prosecution allowed under the City of Houston’s sign regulations. Residents who spot suspected bandit signs should report them to the Houston Department of Neighborhoods by calling the 3-1-1 Houston Service Helpline or using the Houston 3-1-1 mobile app.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menafee’s office also takes a hard stance on bandit signs and will train citizens to serve as Sign Rangers. Certified rangers are permitted to take bandit signs down.

Scenic Houston is the only organization in Houston dedicated to preserving and enhancing Houston’s visual environment and we believe everyone has the right to live in a community surrounded by beautiful, thoughtfully planned public spaces. Join us in support of this critical legislation by sending a letter of support for Senate Bill 190 to Senator Borris Miles or drop us a line at

Find more information about Scenic Houston and what we do here.

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