August Scenic Citizen: Jonathan Day
For nearly four decades, Scenic Houston board member, Jonathan Day, has been the driving force behind many of Houston’s change-making, scenic initiatives. Jonathan’s 45-year long legal career, coupled with his leadership in the community, makes his recognition as August’s Scenic Citizen more than fitting.
During his tenure as Houston’s City Attorney, Jonathan developed the legislation that established Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO), the only major urban transit system in the nation that bans advertising on its vehicles and shelters. Jonathan was also influential in creating the Houston Parks Board and the Cultural Arts Council. He shaped the development of many of the city’s arts landmarks: Alley Theater, The Contemporary Arts Museum, Lawndale Arts Center, and Wortham Theater. Additionally, Jonathan chaired the capital campaign to rebuild Ripley House in the East End.
It is Jonathan’s scenic vision that has kept him at the forefront of issues that impact Houston’s visual character. From the visual blight of billboards to graffiti to attention-getting devices, Jonathan has lent his expertise and leadership to address Houston’s public image nuances. With Jonathan at the helm, Scenic Houston has successfully advocated for the removal of nearly 900 billboards, championed the adoption of a City of Houston ordinance banning attention-getting devices, and successfully transformed the 2-mile long Broadway corridor connecting Hobby Airport to I-45.
Jonathan’s most recent scenic accomplish comes after a three-year-long advocacy effort. On July 29, 2020, Houston City Council adopted an ordinance establishing an Airport Corridor District, a designation for freeways between Houston’s airports and central business district as corridors where new business signage must adhere to specific height and size restrictions. Additionally, the sign code amendments more clearly define the differences between abandoned and neglected signs, which will significantly improve enforcement and, ultimately, the visual characters of these corridors. Not only with the adoption improve Houston’s image, but will simultaneously enhance the character of the communities that border these travel ways.
It is thanks to Jonathan that Houston can once again celebrate a scenic victory. Houston is indeed a more scenic city, thanks to Jonathan Day.