• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Signs / billboards Sign clutter, Texas style

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,817
Points
58
Everything is bigger in Texas ... especially the signs. Here are some images of Amarillo, Texas from my recent about-a-third-of-the-way-across-the-country road trip.

Unfortunately, with few exceptions, this type of development is typical for Texas cities and towns; frontage roads lined with commercial uses, all sporting huge signs. Can anyone explain the "Texas aesthetic" to me? Why are large high-rise signs a typical part of the Texas urban landscape? Do Texans think they are ugly, or do they embrace them as a normal, even welcome part of the built environment? Are there any Texas cities, outside of Lubbock and a few Dallas 'burbs, where high rise signs are rare or non-existent?

1amarillo_08-med.jpg

1amarillo_07-med.jpg

1amarillo_06-med.jpg

1amarillo_05-med.jpg

1amarillo_04-med.jpg

1amarillo_03-med.jpg

1amarillo_02-med.jpg

1amarillo_01-med.jpg

By the way, the steak at the Big Texan is excellent. Expensive, but good. No, it was not the 72 ounce special.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
Abilene

Dan:

Abilene, Texas doesn't have sign clutter along the highway. They have junkyards and rusted oil field equipment yards. The whole idea is that if the junk rusts enough, then it will blend in with the exposed red dirt, ala earth tone screening.
 

Jessie-J

Cyburbian
Messages
386
Points
12
Not many places in Texas are modest with the signage. Unfortunately, the wide open spaces are taken advantage of by commercial establishements. Some places near Austin like Westlake and Dripping Springs have restrictions on sign height and size...either due to a desire for status establishment or perhaps because there are more hills and trees in those areas- the landscape makes it impractical.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
TEXAS

They like their signs like their hats: BIG

YEE HAW !

On a lighter note .... you could've told me that was some arterial road in Jersey and I would've believed you.
 
Last edited:

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Some of the larger signs along the highways cannot be controlled by the cities. Also, you'll find Texas can be a little behind in planning practice and although new sign ordinances could've been passed they still have all the old crap to clean up.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Re: TEXAS

Mike D. said:
They like their signs like their hats: BIG

YEE HAW !

On a lighter note .... you could've told me that was some arterial road in Jersey and I would've believed you.

Pennsylvanian's have this really weird self-conscious thing going on where everything they don't like about their own state they project as being "so Jersey" (which by the way people from New Jersey don't call their state - it's either New Jersey or South Jersey) but for the most part their only experience with "jersey" is driving down some state or federal highway on their way to the "shore".

We don't have anything even remotely resembling that highway strip anywhere in NJ -

first of all we don't have "frontage roads"

second (except for Pinelands designated areas of South Jersey) curbs and sidewalks are mandated.

We don't have berms

The "right lane" of a highway is only a travel lane on narrow urban arterials. Outside of that it's striped with a solid white line and serves as a de facto break down/ decel/emergency lane.

We sure as hell don't have Krispy Kreme

and we have good food here, fast food chains go out of business faster than they open. You'll never find a collection of national chains like that anywhere except maybe just over one of the bridges from AC
 
Last edited:

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,342
Points
31
My City is going through all kinds of problems for precisely this reason.

The City passed a highly restrictive sign ordinance in 1999, shortly after its incorporation. We just recently acquired the staff to enforce the sign ordinance. The ordinance forbids off-premise signs & banners and signs must be monument-style. The business people of the community are having fits because the sign ordinance is "anti-business", in their opinion. They want to hang as many banners as they want AND some are practically using them as permament signs marking the business entrance. On top of that, the businesses are upset about resrictions on sign height and size.

We're actually having a meeting tonight with business owners and the public about possibly revising the sign ordinance. Last time we did something like this the chair let the meeting get totally out of control, so I'm a little worried. I could see allowing maybe one banner for weekly specials or allowing slightly larger signs in some circumstances like along the freeway. We currently limit them to 32sq.ft. Even then, they shouldn't be much larger. I really hope we don't lose our height restrictions.

Anyway, I would appreciate all of your thoughts tonight. Hopefully our highways won't turn into those pictures!
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Re: Re: TEXAS

jresta said:
Pennsylvanian's have this really weird self-conscious thing going on where everything they don't like about their own state they project as being "so Jersey" (which by the way people from New Jersey don't call their state - it's either New Jersey or South Jersey) but for the most part their only experience with "jersey" is driving down some state or federal highway on their way to the "shore".

We don't have anything even remotely resembling that highway strip anywhere in NJ -

first of all we don't have "frontage roads"

second (except for Pinelands designated areas of South Jersey) curbs and sidewalks are mandated.

We don't have berms

The "right lane" of a highway is only a travel lane on narrow urban arterials. Outside of that it's striped with a solid white line and serves as a de facto break down/ decel/emergency lane.

We sure as hell don't have Krispy Kreme

and we have good food here, fast food chains go out of business faster than they open. You'll never find a collection of national chains like that anywhere except maybe just over one of the bridges from AC
Oh come on, don't tell me that doesn't look like Route 73, and Jersey is the home of the "Big Guys" standing on the side of the road at some burger joint. Don't make me break my camera out on my way to the shore.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Re: Re: Re: TEXAS

Mike D. said:
Oh come on, don't tell me that doesn't look like Route 73, and Jersey is the home of the "Big Guys" standing on the side of the road at some burger joint. Don't make me break my camera out on my way to the shore.
The only part of Rt. 73 that resembles is the area around the Turnpike exit - and only then because some of the signs are similar.

I think it looks way more like all of lower Bucks or the King of Prussia area than it does like a NJ highway.

I've never seen these "big guys" at a burger joint and if they are on Rt. 73 i highly doubt they stand on top of some giant telescoping sign.

Anyway - we just don't have that kind of room in NJ - except in the Pines so they only other place you see that kind of stuff is around truck stops which are limited to a few turnpike exits and some places along US 130. Even then, it still looks a lot different than that.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,342
Points
31
results of sign ordinance meeting

The sign meeting itself went pretty well. I was able to gather lots of info about the businesspeople's concerns with the ordinance.

Their main problems focus on the different circumstances for businesses along the freeway compared to those along side-streets. They actually suggested slightly larger signs along the highway, but said they would like tougher restrictions on the materials and contruction of those signs.

Most of the businesses are OK with being allowed one banner for advertising. They suggested banner size be based on length of frontage. Again, they were willing to accept tougher regulations on materials and design.

We did discover one problem with allowing only monument signs. In some cases, you end up with monument signs blocking each other out. We're looking at adding spacing requirements on the signs or allowing heavily-restricted pole signs. I'm looking for some suggestions on this. We want people to be able to find businesses easily, but we don't want a sign jungle either.

I got ambushed by a angry, irrational businessman before the meeting due to some communication problems between staff and council. I thought city staff was responsible for assembling this committee, but the Council motion wasn't clear on this. So I formed a committee and the Mayor formed a committee. The Mayor overruled me on the make-up of the committee. One of the people I appointed was furious, saying that I had lied to him since he wasn't on the Mayor's committee. He ripped into me for a good 15 minutes, but managed to make a total ass of himself. There were five people there before the meeting that saw all of this go on. All of them came up later and told me that the angry man was an idiot and that I handled myself very well. I'm not that upset about getting yelled at since the angry guy discredited himself in the process.

Overall though, I was really happy with the meeting. Thanks for asking.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,447
Points
44
I-75

In I-75 there will be sections right out side of flint, where you can see the golden arches from about a mile or so away. I hate the look of those signs. When I got back from vacation, I put in a recommendation to limit all our signs in the city to 4 feet high and no more than 8 feet wide. There were a few places that had limited height signs, and I thought that they where easier to read, and looked much better.

And if a company says that they have to have signs that high, ask them about peach tree city GA, all the signs are on a 4x6' brick wall. The logo it's self is limited to about 50% or less of the wall surface area. If they want to be in a place, you can make them do what ever your ordinance says.
 

djmadnan

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
Jersey

As a New Yorker, I'm usually the first to rag on Jersey. But in this case, I'll be the first to say that Jersey is just pure awe-inspiring serenity and beauty compared to Texas. The only thing that makes Texas signage even tolerant is that their immense landscape allows nothing to compare the scale of the gigantic signs to. It's like looking at the moon - you really can' t tell how big it is. I think the caucophony of 100 foot pole signs is worse in Georgia b/c of the more intimate landscape. That said, thanks for reminding me of why I'm staying on Long Island.

-djmadnan
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
I used to work as a planner in Amarillo, so I think I can explain the issue.

Amarillo is extremely conservative and has a very hands off government. This means that regulation is at the bare minimum. Thus barely any regulation on sign size.

On the positive, I will say I loved working there. The city was very well managed. While they didn't provide a lot of frills, they no debt whatsoever!!! There was never a fiscal crisis, nobody had to worry about layoffs. The planning that is done was well-respected in the community.

Plus, no sprawl. There is no well water, so the developer has to tie into city water. If you want water you have to pay to extend the water and sewer lines. So, because of this all development is contiguous. Plus, an interesting little tidbit. Almost the entire city is built based on Clarence Perry's Neighborhood Unit concept. All of the arterial roads (except the oldest parts) are exactly one mile apart.
 
Top