SB 898 by Bryan Hughes and HB 2806 by Terry Canales
The special rights that billboard companies will be granted[*] under SB 898/HB 2806 that no other Texas business/property owner enjoys:
A new property right for commercial ads to be visible and read by the traveling public, including children–government may not restrict or control the content of billboard advertisements. This billboard visibility right will spring when a highway project of any kind interferes with the travelling public’s view of a billboard.
A new property right to place a new billboard in a new prime high-traffic location, funded by taxpayers. During highway construction, billboard relocations will be mandated, but, in fact, the word “relocation” is deceptive. It will not be removing and relocating an existing billboard; it will be dismantling and removing an old existing billboard from one location and building a brand-new billboard at a new, highly visible location.
A new right to an unlimited billboard height. Unlike all other new billboards in Texas that have a 60-foot maximum billboard height, these billboards will have no height limit. These massive structures may legally block the views of property owners situated behind the giant billboard but will have NO similar rights as the billboard owner.
A new right to angle billboards over and toward the public highway traffic to assure billboard visibility and readability by vehicle occupants.
A new right to obtain automatic local approvals (via special exceptions) even in the face of conflicting ordinances and community desires.
[*] Current law treats all property and business owners the same in eminent domain—they receive just compensation as constitutionally required. In fact, billboard owners already have more rights than others because the federal relocation act allows them a choice – to relocate or get paid just compensation. No other highway business has a relocation right. Under these bills, however, billboard owners will obtain special treatment with visibility, readability, angles, unlimited height, prime highway locations, and automatic local approvals. If these special rights are granted, all other property owners will be in line, rightfully so, to obtain the same bundle of new rights these bills grant to billboard owners. TxDOT will then be faced with a massive increase in highway construction costs including endless litigation that will dramatically slow down future highway projects. The current Texas law is the same fair treatment to all.
For more information, call Scenic Texas: Jim Arnold 512-431-5385 or Margaret Lloyd 713-898-2819.