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Scenic Houston | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Scenic Houston

Historical Note:

Scenic Houston is a chapter of Scenic Texas, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on promoting policies and actions that enhance the beauty and appeal of our streetscapes and roadways.  Scenic Houston works to reduce existing billboard blight, prevent new billboard construction, foster attractive on-premises signage, incorporate context-sensitive design in the planning of highways and other public projects, and protect the natural beauty and distinctive character of our communities for the benefit of successive generations.

Scenic Houston’s roots are deep.  In 1966, concerned Houstonians formed Billboards Limited to fight against the mushrooming billboard blight in our city.  Billboards Limited fought to establish, for the first time ever, a City of Houston sign ordinance as a means to create standards and regulations for billboards in the city.  Despite overtures from Billboards Limited to work together in this process, the billboard industry fought any kind of regulation and would not compromise.  In addition, City elected leadership of the era was ineffective in leading stakeholders toward establishing effective standards.  By 1980, Houston was home to more than 10,000 billboards and was known in the media as the "Billboard Capitol of the World".

Such a designation was recognized by not only Billboards Limited but a new generation of community leaders as an economic development black eye for Houston.  In 1980, Houston city council unanimously passed an ordinance banning new billboard construction in the city.  This marked a significant turning point in the campaign for signage standards in the city, and sparked a desire for statewide advocacy to protect the appearance and quality of life of roads and streets statewide.  As a result, in 1984, Billboards Limited was re-organized as The Lone Star Roadside Council, a state-wide non-profit organization. A final name change occurred in 1991 with the establishment of Scenic Texas, Inc. as the statewide entity and Scenic Houston as its largest and most active local chapter.

Currently, the chapters of Scenic Texas are run by a mix of staff members and volunteers. Scenic Houston has been able to attract generous donors from Houston. Successful in its attempts to make Houston an uncommonly beautiful and economically dynamic city, Scenic Houston believes that successful economic development can only be achieved if a high priority is placed on quality of life issues.  The organization seeks and supports public policies, at all levels of government, which promote and enhance the visual quality of life aspects of Houston's urban landscape.

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