New video exposes industry tactics to install digital billboards

A new video looks at the efforts of the billboard industry to convert static billboards near Seattle into new digital signs that change advertisements every 6 or 8 seconds.  The segment, produced by veteran videographer Ossian Or, can be viewed HERE

The tactics represent a desire by the industry to infiltrate an area that has been particularly unreceptive to the encroachment of digital billboards.  Residents of nearby Tacoma protested vociferously before that city enacted a complete ban on the signs.

We’ve seen a similar effort here lately by Clear Channel in the counties surrounding Houston.

Scenic America calls for action to save Scenic Byways program

Scenic Byways photoA new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would completely eliminate the National Scenic Byways Program and Scenic America needs our help in opposing this legislation.  The program preserves the beauty of scenic corridors, helps protect community character and provides economic opportunities in tourism and recreation.

Abolishing the National Scenic Byways Program would be devastating to the 150 distinct and diverse roads already designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads.


Seven illegal billboards forced down in Houston

Photo of billboard

The City of Houston Legal Department has successfully forced down seven billboards that have existed illegally for many years in the Houston Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).  During this time, the billboard company, Hang Em High Ltd., has collected – and will keep – significant revenue.

Scenic Houston applauds Mayor Parker, City Attorney Dave Feldman and his staff, and City Sign Administrator Katye Tipton for this success.  The City’s strong stance against Hang Em High and its associated company, Sign Ad, means a reduction of visual blight for citizens in the City’s ETJ.  This City has taken appropriate action against a renegade, scoff-law billboard company that cares nothing for the community in which it does business.   Scenic Houston is gratified by these positive steps to improve the visual appearance of our region.

Currently, there are 103 illegal billboards in Houston.  All of them have earned revenue during the time they have stood illegally.  They will likely never be required to disgorge this revenue.  The only reason billboards have value is due to their position along taxpayer-funded roadways, yet these billboard owners pay nothing to help fund or maintain those roadways, and are costing taxpayer dollars in the fight to force them down.

Soon there will “only” be 96 more illegal billboards for the City to remove.

Seguin getting tougher on electronic signs

SEGUIN – The Main Street Advisory Board voted Monday to recommend additions to the city’s ordinance regulating electronic signs in the Downtown Historic District.

While the citywide ordinance regulating electronic signs requires them to be monument signs except along Interstate 10, the recommended addition for the ordinance regulating signs in the Downtown Historic District says: “The components or sections of a monument sign shall not contain an electronic sign.”

The recommended additions to the sign ordinance also are more restrictive regarding the size of electronic signs. Such signs are limited to 32 square feet citywide except for 100 square feet along Interstate 10.


New study shows billboards hurt nearby property values

photo of beyond aesthetics research report coverScenic America has released a new study shows that billboards negatively affect the values of neighboring properties.  The study also found that cities with strict billboard controls are experiencing greater economic prosperity than those with controls that are less strict.

The report, “Beyond Aesthetics: How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity,” by urban planner Jonathan Snyder, is believed to be the first study on the economic impacts of billboards on nearby real estate value.  Download the study How Billboards Affect Economic Prosperity.

Snyder found that in Philadelphia there is a correlation between a home’s value and its proximity to billboards.  He found that homes within 500 feet of a billboard are worth $30,826 less on average at the time of sale than those properties further away from billboards.  The study also found that each additional billboard within a census tract resulted in a decrease in home values of nearly $1,000.

Additionally, Snyder performed a survey of billboard controls and economic prosperity in 20 cities across the United States.  His report found that cities with stricter billboard controls have greater median incomes, lower poverty rates and lower home vacancy rates than city with less strict billboard controls.

Snyder is an urban planner from Philadelphia with a Master in City Planning degree and a concentration in Community and Economic Development from the University of Pennsylvania.  His research was generously support by a grant from the Samuel S. Fels Fund (

Scenic Houston chooses a new logo

The Scenic Houston board of directors has chosen a new logo design for Scenic Houston that mimics the Scenic America logo.  The new design is being fanned out across all U.S. affiliates and Scenic Houston is one of the first to adopt the new logo.

The new “type only” style allows for the logo to be used by Scenic America affiliates across the country and the new logo is expected to reinforce the mission of Scenic Houston, to preserve and enhance the visual character of Houston.

Scenic Texas has also adopted its version of this new logo.

The old Scenic Houston logo:

Old Scenic Houston logo





The new Scenic Houston logo:

New Scenic Houston logo




The new Scenic America logo:

Scenic America logo




The new Scenic Texas logo:

Scenic Texas logo

Clear Channel resurrects “emergency information” pitch in communities along evacuation routes.

a photo of an electronic billboardLast session S.B. 971 and H.B. 1765 would  have required the placement of at least 200 electronic billboards in cities across Texas under the guise of providing “emergency information” to citizens.   However, the true purpose of the legislation came to light in a Senate hearing.

A representative of the newly created organization, the Texas Emergency Network (TEN), spoke in favor of the bill.  He was questioned about the purpose of the bill and why TEN was created.  He admitted that the sole purpose of creating the organization was to lobby for the passage of S.B. 971 & H.B. 1765.

Why?  So TEN could bid on the highly lucrative job of placing electronic  displays that, as stated by TEN, would likely display commercial advertising for, at most, four days a month.

See TEN’s testimony here:

The Texas Municipal League, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, Texas Association of Counties, Scenic Texas, and several individual cities and counties testified against the legislation.   The Federal Highway Administration took the position that this legislation, if adopted, would subject the State of Texas to a loss of federal highway funding.

Ultimately, both the House and Senate versions of this legislation died in Committee last session.

Now, Clear Channel Outdoor is systematically going to counties and cities on established evacuation routes to get their support for a new electronic messaging system.  What has changed?  Nothing.

It’s still a redundant mechanism.  Why would the Texas Legislature and the Federal Highway Administration approve these billboards now, when it said last year that such a system would cause a loss to Texas of federal funding?

We think this is still just a ruse for the billboard industry to trump local decision-making for its own specific purposes.

Hey, even if they have to display emergency information on these billboards for an average of four days a month, they’ll be raking in the profits (and distracting drivers, cluttering the landscape, and just generally being a nuisance) the remaining 26 or 27 day’s a month!