Houston passes new sign ordinance

HOUSTON Whether advertising for a law firm or just a sale on potato chips, electronic signs abound in Houston. Regulating them, says supporters of a new city ordinance, is about reducing clutter and improving the quality of life in Houston.

"It's important to have a broad, simple ordinance," said sign ordinance supporter Alan Atkinson during Tuesday's council meeting.

Atkinson's pleas for approval of a wide-ranging sign ordinance was also met with a chorus of 'No's at city hall, mainly from businesses and developers who don't want additional sign regulation.

"We oppose the changes to the sign code ordinance," said Joseph Mutter while addressing the council Tuesday.

"Businesses really depend on their signs," said Mario Jacobs, who also opposes the ordinance.

But city council passed it, which among many changes, would reduce size and height of most signs, and would only allow one changeable electronic sign per business. Also, no changeable signs will be allowed on neighborhood streets.

The neighborhood streets clause would mean many churches and area schools with electronic signs in neighborhoods would no longer be allowed to add new changeable signs. But Atkinson says the broader repercussions would mean a better looking community for everyone.

"I need to have a higher quality of life in the city of Houston so my kids will stay here and not get lured to other cities," said Atkinson. "I want them to be here."

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