HOUSTON - The Bayou City, once considered the "Billboard Capitol of the world", has undergone a half-century transformation for the better. It’s substantial beautification and de-cluttering due, in no small measure, to the advocacy group, Scenic Houston.
As Executive Director Heather Houston leads the group's on-going campaign against "Sign Blight".
"No new billboards have been erected in this city in 40 years. Our city looks so much better without them. It has so much visual character," said Houston.
But after steadily clawing down the number of billboards from 10,000 to under 1,400, Scenic Houston is going to battle against what they view as a game-changing threat and it comes from City Hall.
"They are now negotiating with a billboard company to potentially construct 50 new LED, digital, double-sided, 60 foot billboards within City property....Jumbotrons," said Houston.
An official request for bids obtained by FOX 26 serves as strong evidence that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is exploring a potential multimillion-dollar revenue stream.
If the deal gets done and approved by Council, Scenic Houston contends it will instantly reverse 50 years of progress, depress home values near digital billboards and present a safety compromising distraction to drivers across the City.
"Our sign code is one the most admired in the country, so let's not go changing that. It's a very slippery slope. Once you let this company come in and put up 50 LED boards, you have to let the other billboard companies do the same, and I don't think any of us want our city lit up like a Las Vegas or a Times Square," said Houston.
A spokesperson for Mayor Turner told the Houston Chronicle the proposal is still under evaluation. In a response to FOX 26 Thursday night, the same spokesperson said, "At this time there is nothing before the Mayor for him to consider."
Scenic Houston also fiercely opposed the City Council's approval of controversial kiosks with advertising.
That measure was also billed as means of raising revenue for the city.