(From the Mayor’s Office)
|Mayor Annise Parker announced today that after more than three years of intense and continuous litigation the 59 illegal billboards located in the City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction owned by a scofflaw company called RTM Media will finally be coming down. The litigation included a challenge to the legality of the City’s Sign Ordinance, which was upheld at each stage of the litigation, finally culminating in a ruling favorable to the City of Houston from the United States Supreme Court.
Due in part to the City’s success in previous court battles, the erection of new billboards has been banned in Houston for years. “This company thumbed its nose at that prohibition and targeted the neighborhoods just outside our city limits,” said Mayor Parker. “This is another major victory in the long-running battle to reduce visual blight. Sign control, an attractive urban streetscape and green space equal a formula designed not only to insure the quality of life for Houstonians but a recipe for economic success.”
Over the next 12 months, the signs will be removed as part of an order entered by the U.S.District Court through which the assets and affairs of the company have been managed since the company was placed into receivership in April of 2009. The removal will be at no cost to the City of Houston, and could cost the receivership estate upwards of $15,000 per sign, a cost that could have in the worst case scenario been incurred by the City to remove the illegal signs. The order also provides for a cash payment to the City of Houston in the amount of $50,000 to defer a portion of the City’s other costs incurred in the process.
The City is appreciative of the efforts of the law firm of Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, the City’s special legal counsel, as well as the efforts of members of the City’s Legal Department and Public Works Department – Sign Administration, in continuing to pursue various avenues to achieve this result. The City also appreciates the efforts of the Texas Department of Transportation to resolve this matter, the efforts of the Federal receiver to achieve compliance through the receivership process, and the continued support of interested citizens groups like Scenic Houston.
Mayor Parker will announce this court victory at tonight’s Scenic Houston Annual Visionary Dinner, Houston Country Club, 1 Potomac Dr. The mayor is scheduled to arrive at about 7:30 p.m