Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Court upholds billboard ordinance

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 law firm of Smyser Kaplan & Veselka served as the City’s special legal counsel.

Power couple to be honored

The newest Champions of Literacy – literary power couple Dayna Steele and Charles Justiz – will be honored by Literacy Advance of Houston on Thursday, Nov. 11. The evening event will take place at The Downtown Club at Houston Center, 1100 Caroline, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Michael Garfield, the “High-Tech Texan,” will serve as master of ceremonies.

Honorary Chairs for the event are Kristi and John Schiller, good friends of Steele, who is an author, business entrepreneur and Houston rock radio diva, as well as her husband, who is a pilot, professor, PhD and the author of the new sci-fi thriller Specific Impulse.

Part of the evening’s festivities will include the event’s annual big draw, “What’s Your Favorite Book?” Silent Auction. Included among the responses to Dayna and Charlie’s request were those from David Crosby of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash (and later “and Young”); Elayne Boosler, comedian; Paul Begala, former White House advisor to President Bill Clinton; and Billy Mumy, child actor and longtime friend. Astronauts Walt Cunningham and Bonnie Dunbar and Shuttle Commander Tom Henricks also offered up their favorite reads.

All proceeds from the evening benefit Literacy Advance and its free English literacy classes offered to the community. Tickets are available by calling 713-266-8777 or go to www.literacyadvance.org.

Established in 1964, Literacy Advance of Houston is a 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission is transform lives and communities through the doorway of literacy.

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