Scenic America Supports Communities on Billboard Issues

With billboard battles heating up in communities across the country, Scenic America is lending its support to affiliates and activists as they face changes to signage codes and other intrusions.

A rendering of what newly proposed digital billboards might look like against the Houston skyline

Scenic Houston is currently urging residents to speak out against a proposal to erect 50 new digital LED billboards along its freeways. If the proposal passes, the city will need to amend its 40-year-old sign code to allow all billboard companies to convert their static billboards to digital billboards, raising fresh concerns about safety and environmental impact. The Houston Chronicle addressed this concern in a June 14 editorial, noting: “There is no such thing as an ad blocker for the bright billboards that accost us on daily commutes or leisurely bike rides. For more than 40 years, the next best thing has been Houston’s no-nonsense billboard restrictions. Weakening them could be a sign of trouble…”  Houston’s Fox affiliate also ran a segment on the issue, highlighting the growing opposition to this plan. To date, more than 600 people have contacted the city council and the mayor’s office using Scenic America’s advocacy platform to voice their concerns. The issue is likely to go to city council this summer.

In Parsippany, NJ, the Zoning Board of Adjustment is considering a proposed variance to allow a large digital billboard in a sensitive location. After communicating with board members and local citizens, Scenic America has registered a policy statement that details our opposition to the proposal. The proposed billboard would harm nearby properties, negatively impact driver safety and human and ecological health, and degrade the scenic qualities of the community. The proposal was scheduled for a June 23 hearing, but has been moved to October 23; Scenic America will take renewed action leading up to that hearing.

In Arizona, Maricopa County is considering a text amendment to its sign code which would allow a major proliferation of digital billboards with no provisions for a takedown of static signs in exchange. Scenic America has submitted a detailed public comment stating our opposition, and we are preparing to create a call to action to urge Phoenix area residents to speak out against this amendment prior to the next hearing on July 22.

Since October of 2020, Scenic America has partnered with our Rhode Island citizen activists, led by Scenic America Chairman Emeritus Ronald Lee Fleming and longtime supporter Jonathan Stevens, in an ongoing effort to combat a digital billboard proposal in Providence. Various versions of the bill have been submitted, and Scenic America has consistently applied pressure in the form of email, policy statements, and testimony at public hearings. We took action against the most recent version of the bill which went before the city council on June 3, and continue to monitor the proposal after it was referred back to the Committee on Ordinances.

Scenic America stands at the ready to help communities facing billboard proliferation, changes to sign ordinances, and other scenic concerns. Contact us at scenic@scenic.org if your community is in need of assistance on a related matter.