Tide Turning on Billboards?

Anti-billboard ordinances are nothing new, but looking at the future trends, at least here in north texas, not only are new billboards entirely banned in essentially all incorporated towns statewide except the very rural, but
most cities are now trying to reduce them, by requiring someone to remove several old ones to get approved for one new, or using LED as a tool. Dallas and many surrounding cities have banned new boards outright, but will allow you to convert an existing to LED if you first demolish 3 existing signs. Plus, since everywhere bans substantial repair to existing boards, as they reach end of life those signs drop off too.

As the number of signs dwindle, and the remaining signs 1. Stick out more noticeably and 2. Get priced out of local businesses, are we looking at a recipe for additional statewide action against billboards? Are statewide bans on the horizon for more states like Texas?

Texas has no statewide ban on billboards. Only Hawaii, Vermont, Alaska and Maine ban billboards statewide. There is little risk of the others following suit, as they would have 40 years ago if they were going to do it. Most states see billboards as a necessary tool for motorists to get information on food, hotels, and other options. Even the original Highway Beautification Act sought not to outlaw billboards but to simply control them. They could have banned them nationally just as easily, but they did not. The markets you are talking about (Dallas, etc.) are so picked over that there’s no decent locations left anyway, so a ban would not even matter. To find good billboard spots today, you have to look outside the major cities. That’s been the case since the 1980s.

The LED issue is that cities are trying to limit them by requiring removal of other signs. They are basically trading billboard companies something they want (LED) for what the cities want (fewer billboards). You can’t blame them, it’s not a bad barter on their part.

Nowhere that I’m aware of bans repair to billboards unless it exceeds 60% or so of original cost – essentially total destruction from a windstorm. That’s been the law since the 1970s. I’ve never seen a sign come down as a result, except in a tornado. Most operators work around the issue and do renovations a bit at a time.