HOUSTON – Scenic Houston is lauding the Houston City Council for recently passing an ordinance approving a contract agreement with an outdoor billboard company to reduce the number of its billboards in the city.
JGI has agreed to remove 13 billboards around the city, Scenic Houston said.
"The settlement agreement is a compromise which resolves outstanding sign-related issues between JGI and the city of Houston, without the expenditure of considerable time, resources and litigation," Scenic Houston said in a statement.
The total number of billboards to be removed across the city and its ETJ is now 68, which is a 4 percent reduction in the city's total inventory, officials said.
"The city of Houston deserves a visual landscape that reflects the success of our city. As we continue to clean up the visual pollution that litters our neighborhoods, we are creating a safer community for all Houstonians," Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "I want to thank Scenic Houston for tireless efforts and applaud them for their achievements in enhancing the beauty and well-being of our city."
Scenic Houston said it is a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the visual character of Houston. It consulted with the city’s legal department for the past two years as it negotiated agreements with billboard companies JGI, SignAd and Outfront.
"We are proud of our work with the city of Houston in helping to reduce billboard clutter and to improve the urban landscape," president of Scenic Houston, Anne Culver, said. "I am delighted that the Houston City Council had adopted ordinances to remove these signs."
Culver said a hot-button issue is digital billboards; studies have cited digital billboards as a safety concern in regard to driver distraction, Scenic Houston said.
"Brightly lit, changing digital billboards are even more distracting than traditional billboards," Culver said.
Culver noted research published in 2015 showing that in areas close to digital billboard sites in Florida and Alabama, there were significantly higher crash rates -- 25 percent in Florida and 29 percent in Alabama. Scenic Houston said a disproportionate number were rear-end and sideswipe collisions, both typical of crashes caused by driver distraction.