Representatives from Clear Channel Outdoor, one of the world's largest outdoor advertising companies, and the Texas Department of Transportation are proposing a billboard ordinance at El Paso City Council Tuesday.
City leaders have made numerous efforts to control billboards in years past. East Side City Rep. Dr. Michiel Noe said billboards are a hot topic again because they have the potential of getting in the way of funding City roadway projects.
Due to the current City ordinance, Noe said El Paso hasn't seen any additional billboards being built.
The number of billboards has stayed close to the same or even decreased recently because for every electronic billboard that goes up, the media company that owns the digital billboard must take down five billboards of equal size.
"El Paso's relocation ordinances for out-of-home advertising are more restrictive than the State of Texas," Clear Channel Outdoor spokesman Jason King said. "Clear Channel Outdoor supports a local legislative solution that mirrors the state's pro-commerce provisions and that would allow the relocation of its billboards to highly-travelled commuter areas like I-10 and U.S. 54. Under 'eminent domain' provisions, if the state decides that a sign in El Paso must be relocated, and local ordinances prohibit the relocation to a viable area, the city could be at risk for compensating an out-of-home media company up to approximately $1 million."
Instead, there's a push for the City to adopt TxDOT's billboard ordinance.
"Purchasing these billboards under 'eminent domain' represents an unnecessary burden for the city and unnecessary spending of taxpayer money. A legislative solution that's more in line with the state's, will help ensure that local businesses, non-profits and law enforcement can continue to depend on out-of home media as an affordable and effective means for getting their messages out," King said.
"Do the taxpayers really want to spend that much money to be rid of a billboard that's already there or would they allow moving it a few feet to just one side?" Noe asked. He would like City leaders to at least hold an open discussion about a possible ordinance.
Although a tentative agreement is in place, both TxDOT and Clear Channel Outdoor would like City Council to reconsider some of the rules.
Noe hopes that El Paso will adopt TxDOT's billboard ordinance.