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Can anything be done about the billboards on 45?  Some cities don't allow them at all... why do we?  Hopefully something can be done to rid this city of that.

BR

When I researched this issue for the Houston Freeways book, I found that federal regulations prohibit the removal of a billboard along a federally funded highway without compensation for lost income. TxDOT and the City of Houston don't have the money to buy out the billboards. When freeway expansion necessitates billboard removal, the billboard can be moved to any location in Houston's ETJ that allows the billboards. That has resulted in a glut of billboards along certain freeways, mainly high-volume freeways like the North and Southwest freeways.

Although City of Houston regulations require the removal of all off-premise billboards by 2012, the freeway billboards will persist, as best as I could determine. So enjoy your freeway billboards. They'll be around for a long, long time.

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This is the most frustrating issue for me regarding creating a quality environment in Houston. Billboards are such a complete eyesore, such a pox on our city - and as I was born and raised here - is something that I have had to deal with my entire life. It is downright depressing to think that they may very well be there, particularly along I-45, my entire life! The fact that companies like Clear Channel and Viacom are profiting at our city's expense (and along highways we paid for!) is unbelievable to me.... and to advertise what? Liquor (hello, do we want o promote drinking and driving!?), ugly houses, strip joints, cigarettes, car dealerships, Louisiana casinos - what kind of message does that send to both our residents and our visitors? I've had it... anybody have a bulldozer I can borrow??

And you are right... when I travel around the country, there are countless cities that have billboard-free zones along their interstate highways... and then when I land back in Houston - BAM! - welcome back to the Visual Assault Capital of the World!!!! Honestly - and I like this town - but there is not a stretch of highway in North America that looks as cheap, tawdry, and trashy as I-45 between the northern and southern sections of the Beltway. Its maddening...

It sure makes it difficult to impress those from outside of Houston (ahem, like real estate investors) when they can't even see our skyline due to billboard proliferation.

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This is the most frustrating issue for me regarding creating a quality environment in Houston. Billboards are such a complete eyesore, such a pox on our city - and as I was born and raised here - is something that I have had to deal with my entire life.

Well, there are some good things happening. The Sam Houston Tollway was designated as a scenic zone and is almost entirely billboard-free, to the best of my recollection. The West Loop through uptown is a scenic corridor, which prevents new billboards. There are other scenic zones. Also recall that the Katy Freeway was lined with billboards on the railroad corridor, most of which were removed after TxDOT bought it in 1992. Once the high voltage towers are removed, the Katy Freeway will be visually far better than it was before expansion began. (Of course, some billboards will remain.)

It's unfortunate that the North Freeway is the first thing many visitors see. The narrow corridor from 610 to Sheperd exacerbates the problem by making the billboards seem even more imposing.

But there is one potential way to minimize the mess: a major freeway expansion with a major right-of-way acquisition, similar to the Eastex Freeway (or Katy Freeway). Many billboards would be displaced, although most would be relocated alongside the new right-of-way. But making the corridor wider will reduce the impact of the billboards. After all, aren't billboards much less imposing on the Eastex?

TxDOT's recommendation is to add 4 HOT lanes to the North Freeway. I calculate that will require 100 feet of ROW with proper emergency shoulders, and the existing HOV lane has 20 feet. Add in extra ROW for a third frontage road lane in each direction plus modern standards for offsets, and you're looking at a potential 120 feet of acquisition. That could make a big difference. Will it happen? Hard to say. TxDOT is backing away from ROW acquisition after the Katy Freeway, and any amount of opposition could derail the whole plan since there are no powerful interests pushing for the expansion. But, there's still hope. Maybe someday......

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(from the draft minutes of the November 18th, 2004 TxDOT meeting. TxDOT in this case tried to do the right thing, but got their hand slapped)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ITEM 11. CONTESTED CASE

Walker County - SignAd, Ltd. vs. Texas Department of Transportation - Consider

action on administrative law judge proposal for decision concerning cancellation of an

outdoor advertising permit, final order

Commissioner Houghton made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Andrade,

and the commission approved the following minute order presented by General Counsel

Richard Monroe:

109881

OGC

On March 25, 2004, the Texas Department of Transportation (department) canceled

outdoor advertising permit No. 074489, which was held by SignAd, Ltd. (SignAd). SignAd

filed a petition for an administrative hearing under the contested case rules of the Texas

Transportation Commission (commission). The matter was referred to the State Office of

Administrative Hearings. A Proposal for Decision, together with findings of fact and

conclusions of law, was issued. The Proposal for Decision concluded that the cancellation of

the sign permit should be overturned.

THESE DRAFT MINUTES ARE POSTED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES. THE MINUTES

WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE COMMISSION AT THE NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING.

November 18, 2004 983

Under the Administrative Procedure Act and the commission's rules, the matter is

now appropriate for entry of a final order by the commission.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the commission hereby issues the attached

order in the case of Texas Department of Transportation v. SignAd, Ltd., Docket No.

601-04-5715.

The executive director is directed to take the necessary steps to implement this

order.

Note: Exhibit A on file with minute order clerk.

ITEM 12. CONTRACTS

a. Award or Reject Highway Improvement Contracts

(1) Maintenance

Commissioner Houghton made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Nichols,

and the commission approved the following minute order presented by Construction

Section Director Elizabeth Boswell:

109882

CST

Pursuant to Transportation Code, Chapter 223, Subchapter A, and Title 43, Texas

Administrative Code, Chapter 9, Subchapter B, the Texas Department of Transportation

(department) solicited and received sealed competitive bid proposals for maintenance of the

State Highway System, which were publicly opened and read on November 9 and 10, 2004.

Pursuant to cited code provisions highway maintenance contract bids on a project

may be accepted or rejected, but if accepted must be awarded to the lowest bidder.

An award is conditional in the event it is subject to Federal Highway

Administration concurrence, third party funding or concurrence, and other conditions

listed in the contract.

The department recommends that the Texas Transportation Commission

(commission) respectively award to the lowest bidder or reject, as indicated, those

highway maintenance contracts, with an engineer

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  • 2 weeks later...

Personally, I think we can do without a number of the billboards.

Yes, a FEW can be clever.

a considerable number of them ARE tacky.

But I have to agree with 27, the Darque tan girls ARE cute.

Still, the billboards HAVE to go.

Ricco

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  • 2 years later...
Can anything be done about the billboards on 45? Some cities don't allow them at all... why do we? Hopefully something can be done to rid this city of that.

BR

Without billboards, how would you know what is at the upcoming exits? Yes, I'll admit that some of them are unattractive. What I really like are the interstate logo signs with a blue background with contain several logos of restaurants and other businesses at the upcoming exits. Maybe someone has a photo of one or of some that he/she can post.

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Without billboards, how would you know what is at the upcoming exits? Yes, I'll admit that some of them are unattractive. What I really like are the interstate logo signs with a blue background with contain several logos of restaurants and other businesses at the upcoming exits. Maybe someone has a photo of one or of some that he/she can post.

Those seem to be a rural highway thing in Texas at least. I don't think TxDOT would be so quick to place them on urban freeways just yet.

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I have always liked billboards as long as they are not created to disgust, be repellent or for shock value.

The best ones are the ones that have a real beautiful gorgeous girl or woman advertising a product. I have no complaints there either!

I have always loved the glittery Las Vegas type too. There are great ones on the west coast that actually move. My fav there are the ones that flip left to right then right to left like a vertical venetian blind. Sunset Strip always had the most cool! Do a Google and see! >:)

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I have always liked billboards as long as they are not created to disgust, be repellent or for shock value.

The best ones are the ones that have a real beautiful gorgeous girl or woman advertising a product. I have no complaints there either!

I have always loved the glittery Las Vegas type too. There are great ones on the west coast that actually move. My fav there are the ones that flip left to right then right to left like a vertical venetian blind. Sunset Strip always had the most cool! Do a Google and see! >:)

To be honest, there are some billboards that I don't understand. I mean, why would someone driving on an interstate be interested in getting a vasectomy reversal? Upon seeing the sign, would him make him exit to get "clipped?"

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To be honest, there are some billboards that I don't understand. I mean, why would someone driving on an interstate be interested in getting a vasectomy reversal? Upon seeing the sign, would him make him exit to get "clipped?"

I swear I've seen that vasectomy reversal billboard all over the place. Despite it having a Houston number I've seen it in both Kentucky and Utah. LOL!

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I swear I've seen that vasectomy reversal billboard all over the place. Despite it having a Houston number I've seen it in both Kentucky and Utah. LOL!

That's what I meant by advertising that shocks or is in bad taste for the pathetic cause of marketing a product.

Just watch in a few years (if not already) there will be gynecologists showing spread eagle pics uncensored of course. Business's feel since we live in a shock-free society why not? It's time to cash in!

Basically everthing you see on prime time (and worse cable) is on billboards already. Girls in elementary schools talk about abortions and the stuff only women knew about. Its a free for all. :wacko:

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Just watch in a few years (if not already) there will be gynecologists showing spread eagle pics uncensored of course.

Actually, I've already seen that. Not on a billboard, but on a web site. The billboard that advertised the site was provacative enough to get me curious to go to a gynecologist's website (not an easy thing to do, considering I'm a man). Needless to say, I wasn't quite expecting whatI got. Not that it was dirty or anything, but let's just say you got a thorough biology lesson, complete with pictures.

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  • 4 weeks later...
I swear I've seen that vasectomy reversal billboard all over the place. Despite it having a Houston number I've seen it in both Kentucky and Utah. LOL!
It might be one of those businesses that obtains a phone number from a city that they're advertising in but they're actually somewhere far away.
To be honest, there are some billboards that I don't understand. I mean, why would someone driving on an interstate be interested in getting a vasectomy reversal? Upon seeing the sign, would him make him exit to get "clipped?"
I said that wrong. He's already been "clipped." If he sees that sign, does it make him want to exit and get himself "reconnected?"
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I was trying to take a picture of Downtown as I approached closer and closer going north on I-45. Damn billboards and business signs kept getting in the way of the awesome shot it would have been. Awesome angle from the sun, unique color of sky, hello billboards and sign.

Disgusting indeed.

How about one interchanging LED board every once in a while along the road during the day? (They can be blinding at night as you may tell by MGM and NYNY bridge Vegas) :P LED what? Solar power what? What is this internet you speak of?

Edited by flyingman
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Are you guys serious? If you want to beautify the city, billboards are the least of our problems. I don't understand this. How about not allowing dumpster to be put in front of a business. Legislate that you have to put parking in the rear of a business and put the architecture in front. How about some zoning, or a cohesive master plan for "districts". Billboards? Wasted effort.

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Are you guys serious? If you want to beautify the city, billboards are the least of our problems. I don't understand this. How about not allowing dumpster to be put in front of a business. Legislate that you have to put parking in the rear of a business and put the architecture in front. How about some zoning, or a cohesive master plan for "districts". Billboards? Wasted effort.

Good point. Advertising however, has become a real monster and theres no end in sight I'm afraid. I remember when the Super Bowl was about football, thats it. Its an advertising-gorefest now. Its lost its whole premise. Everywhere from public restrooms to airline seating there will be more adds being rammed down everyone's throats. I read in business weekly that airport restrooms will now have toilet paper with ads. It's the monkey-see, monkey-do genre. Competition between sponsors & ad agency's only fan the flames in the madness. The more risque and provocative the more attention it gets, right?

May as well join and create some clever one's ourselves. I can see baby bottles with Nike or Gatorade in neon colors on them. As the baby sucks the drink down the bottle fades into different colours? or contact lenses with Pearl eye wear emblazoned across each lens? I could go on. Yep, its a mad, mad, mad world.

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Zoning is not the problem. Zoning would probably make the Inner Loop unaffordable to everyone, even the average renter. Besides, how do you go about zoning when everything is as patchwork as it is in regards to land use.

Now, billboards. They're there. Don't look at them. Look at what's in front of you and around you on the road (i.e. cars) and we might have fewer stupid accidents that hurt and kill people. Even if every billboard is gone it's still not going to be very pretty.

They could try doing with at least parts of 45 what they did with 59 from Shepherd to downtown - dig a trench, put all cross streets going over the freeway and that is really not conducive to visibility in regards to billboards. Clear Channel, Viacom might end up taking them down themselves afterwards. Just a thought.

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Zoning is not the problem. Zoning would probably make the Inner Loop unaffordable to everyone, even the average renter. Besides, how do you go about zoning when everything is as patchwork as it is in regards to land use.

Really? Tell that to the Southampton residents that tried to keep a Dental Office from opening in the heart of their neighborhood. Or in the Heights, where you can open up a used car lot right next to a house. How is it that everyone else in the US is wrong about zoning and we're the only one right?

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Really? Tell that to the Southampton residents that tried to keep a Dental Office from opening in the heart of their neighborhood. Or in the Heights, where you can open up a used car lot right next to a house. How is it that everyone else in the US is wrong about zoning and we're the only one right?

These people have plenty of options.

A) Going to IAH to leave town and go somewhere else

B) Going to Hobby to leave town and go somewhere else

C) Going onto the billboard-lined freeways that are the actual topic here to leave town and go somewhere else

D) Taking the *scenic route* on the backroads to leave town and go somewhere else

E) Just shutting up and dealing with it

I choose Option *E* - Houston has no zoning - it's just the way it is.

Edited by BrewsterMcCloud
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Nice attitude. That's what makes Houston such a great town to live in, people only give a crap about themselves. No sense of community.

You're free to create another thread about zoning and explain how it would work after everything's been built as it is (assuming there isn't one already), instead of carrying on about it in a topic intended to be about billboards on 45.

My attitude is only about realism. You are not going to see zoning in Houston, just like you're not going to see the billboards leave the freeway landscape. When this happens I will light up a big fat joint in front of HPD headquarters downtown, because it will be legal by then.

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OK, so there's no zoning, but there certainly are neighborhood deed restrictions.

Granted, it takes a lot of community involvement (and apparently a decent lawyer can get around them - see the "condo loophole" in the Heights) to get them on the books and enforced, but you can't say neighborhoods aren't trying.

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OK, so there's no zoning, but there certainly are neighborhood deed restrictions.

Granted, it takes a lot of community involvement (and apparently a decent lawyer can get around them - see the "condo loophole" in the Heights) to get them on the books and enforced, but you can't say neighborhoods aren't trying.

the "condo loophole" is not about deed restrictions but a poorly drafted city ordinance developed by Annise Parker.

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it's not only billboards but the signage for all the businesses along there. a restrictive sign ordinance would have been nice.

Someone wrote a letter in today's Houston Chronicle complaining about the billboards on IH-45. That person said that the interstates in Phoenix, Arizona have no billboards in the city limits.

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In my opinion all of these things, billboards, no zoning, transportation, and general trashiness of Houston are all part of it's, thankfully ending, adolescence as a city. Despite it's size only within the past 5 to 10 years has Houston really started to acknowledge it's place as a major american "city" and really begun to embrace the things that come along with that. The whole "it's all about me and screw everyone else attitude" is definitely dieing as people become more concerned with the notion of community. I left for 9 years, just returning this year, and I can see major changes. Houston is very quickly attracting the upper middle income earners and as this continues you will start to see more regulations regarding quality of life issues without a doubt. Bottom line is most of the people who are becoming the "new" Houston don't care for the way things have operated in the city. Consider their income level, the fact that many are from or have lived in other large cities, and the biggest thing... that most were raised in clean, planned suburban communities and you will see that in the future those values will only become more strongly reflected in the regualtions and ordinances of the city. The majority of the new developments are in transitional neighborhoods (regarding both crime and land use), and you stick someone who grew up in the "pretty" burbs and paid $500K for their new house in that environment and see how quickly things change and the prospect of zoning, billboards, you name it (lifestyle issues) suddenly gets a whole lot of political weight and money behind it.

These things won't make Houston unaffordable as some say, because that is already happening despite them not being in place... rather they will only reflect the new demographic of the city and the fact that most semi-decent neighborhoods are already unaffordable for many lower income earners. That's just being realistic.

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What really cracks me up is how certain advertising is done in certain parts of the city. Everyday I pass by 59 headed towards the Galleria area and there are 2 billboards side by side next to 12 Oaks MedicaL Center. One is advertising Rolex watches the other Cartier. It would be hilarious to see this same advertising being done in less afluent areas of town. :wacko:

Head farther to 45 south and there are several billboards advertising topless entertainment.

Go to less afluent areas and most are about liquor, vasectomies, and lawyers for DUI, etc. Hilarious!

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What really cracks me up is how certain advertising is done in certain parts of the city. Everyday I pass by 59 headed towards the Galleria area and there are 2 billboards side by side next to 12 Oaks MedicaL Center. One is advertising Rolex watches the other Cartier. It would be hilarious to see this same advertising being done in less afluent areas of town. :wacko:

Head farther to 45 south and there are several billboards advertising topless entertainment.

Go to less afluent areas and most are about liquor, vasectomies, and lawyers for DUI, etc. Hilarious!

Less affluent areas? Those kind of signs are everywhere. People everywhere will get drunk, some will also drive and will then need a lawyer, then they'll have unprotected sex and they'll need a lawyer to fight a patrimony lawsuit. Then they'll wish they had gotten a vasectomy. Are billboards advertising those products and services really needed? People will always do those things with or without any signs to "prod" or "coax" them.

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Zoning is often mentioned in these types of discussions but there are streetscapes in Los Angeles and Phoenix (cities with zoning) that are plagued by billboards and overbearing store marquees as well. What seems to make it more noticeable and, apparently, egregious in Houston is that the billboards are more prominent along feeder roads that parallel freeways (where visitors from airports are more likely to notice). But even that is a case-by-case situation, as there are quite a few segments of various freeways in Houston that are relatively billboard free.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties also have some rather inundated streetscapes when it comes to billboards and store marquees, FTR. Again, zoning is in place in most municipalities in those counties.

All that said, I agree that you're not likely to see the billboards go anywhere anytime soon unless you have a Katy Freeway style expansion that calls for the purchase of several properties fronting the freeway which may have these signs and billboards sticking obnoxiously into the air.

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And even if there's zoning, federal regulations (which supercede local zoning ordinances no matter which city it is) will keep those billboards on the feeder roads until some scenario like The Great Hizzy pointed out.

I really do not see any benefit to introducing zoning at this point. Basically whatever is sitting where it is will be zoned accordingly. It might affect future development, but it will remain haphazard and will actually make it harder to create centralized districts unless you start uprooting businesses wherever they decide to make residential areas or residents in wherever is deemed to be commercial areas. And if the latter has to happen, it won't happen.

You can have some more limited ordinances i.e. limiting apartment complexes within a certain distance of each other or laws that go after owners of buildings like Central Square or the Days Inn on Calhoun/St. Joseph while keeping the general property rights intact. It's an interesting social experiment if nothing else, and the most quantifiable unique aspect of Houston, for better or worse. If I didn't like it I'd leave.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Can anything be done about the billboards on 45? Some cities don't allow them at all... why do we? Hopefully something can be done to rid this city of that.

BR

A story in today's Chronicle is not about billboards on IH-45 but on state highway 6. On page A4 it shows a photos of a billboard that reads: "Nooky's Erotic Bakery. Naughty Cakes For Nice Occasions." Have any of you ever bought a cake or a pie from there? Or some Danish pastries?

There's also an article about Houston's traffic getting worse. How come that doesn't surprise me?

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Judge shoots down city law that curbs billboards

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the city from enforcing its 27-year-old sign code, ruling the regulations could violate free speech protections in the First Amendment.

The ruling results from a recent challenge to the city's aggressive plan to crack down on non-permitted billboards bordering Houston, but the scope of U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon's opinion surprised city officials.

Fearing they will lose the ability to regulate all signs citywide, not just billboards they have targeted in a five-mile ring around Houston, officials said they are considering an appeal.

full article

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How about we start tearing down the billboards ourselves? Kind of like when we start the ground-breakings ourselves when we feel like things aren't not coming along as quickly as we'd like.

I'm not good with tools. How would we go about it?

Wow that sounds like fun!

I would use a flame thrower or even better a rocket launcher! I could just see those cows going in all directions shrouded in fire. We could film and You Tube the whole assualt. Your one smart cookie Kim! >:)

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I would think so, If I owned a piece of land next to the freeway, I would have a billboard on it until it gets developed, I am talking outside the Beltway though.

Edited by Marty
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I would think so, If I owned a piece of land next to the freeway, I would have a billboard on it until it gets developed, I am talking outside the Beltway though.

well the ordinance is only city of houston so inside the beltway may be affected.

Edited by musicman
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Have any of y'all seen that billboard on the North Fwy. while driving southbound between Airline and Tidwell? It's where that old Peterbilt (I think it was Peterbilt) dealer used to be. I think it's a used car lot now, anyway, the billboard has about 4-6 bikini clad women on it and advertises the car lot. I immediately thought about this thread when I saw it.

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Have any of y'all seen that billboard on the North Fwy. while driving southbound between Airline and Tidwell? It's where that old Peterbilt (I think it was Peterbilt) dealer used to be. I think it's a used car lot now, anyway, the billboard has about 4-6 bikini clad women on it and advertises the car lot. I immediately thought about this thread when I saw it.

When I see this thread it reminds me of the Benihana billboard just south of The Woodlands with the big knife at the walk way level, the workers has to be careful around that one. :unsure:

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Have any of y'all seen that billboard on the North Fwy. while driving southbound between Airline and Tidwell? It's where that old Peterbilt (I think it was Peterbilt) dealer used to be. I think it's a used car lot now, anyway, the billboard has about 4-6 bikini clad women on it and advertises the car lot. I immediately thought about this thread when I saw it.

and that reminds me of the stripper night clubs over by League City on 45 South. There is a huge Lakewood wannabe church there and just above it about 1/2 block away is (I think) Lipstick Cabaret billboard with a woman licking a lollipop almost in the buff. See the irony?

As you drive in from like Galveston you clearly see the voluptuous vixen above the church tempting you to come to mass. :wacko:

Amen!

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and that reminds me of the stripper night clubs over by League City on 45 South. There is a huge Lakewood wannabe church there and just above it about 1/2 block away is (I think) Lipstick Cabaret billboard with a woman licking a lollipop almost in the buff. See the irony?

As you drive in from like Galveston you clearly see the voluptuous vixen above the church tempting you to come to mass. :wacko:

Amen!

One of the ones I like is on I-45 between Houston and Galveston. There's a billboard advertising "Heartbreaker's" strip club, and right near it is a billboard for a church that says "Jesus heals the heart broken". I thought that was quite good.

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