STAFF EDITORIAL: Ban of inflatable ads a step ?in the right direction

Houston drivers may no longer be greeted by waving wind puppets and giant animals while traveling down city streets and highways.

Claiming unsightly advertisements such as these lower property values, the City Council voted to ban them, KHOU reported Wednesday.

Let’s face it: Houston isn’t very pretty, at least not from the perspective of a highway. The city has a lot of beauty to offer, but it’s being suffocated under plastic and air. And what a giant animal has to do with cars or mattresses we’re still not clear on.

We support banning these inflatable monstrosities, but worry that actually doing so may prove difficult.

Houston has regulations on the amount of time advertisements like these can be displayed, but according to KHOU, rarely enforces them.

The approved ban includes other "attention-getting" items, such as large wind puppets and strobe lights, but will allow exceptions for seasonal items, The Houston Chronicle reported. However, KHOU reported "the city attorney says city workers will have to make the call on whether something’s seasonal or not on a case-by-case basis."

If the city is already struggling to enforce the regulations it has in place, it seems unlikely it will follow through and individually inspect each holiday-themed product. Not only that, but the definition of "holiday" varies greatly from each individual, and crafty salespeople will probably be able to defend their decorations.

We hope the ban is enforced, as we think it a step in the right direction – one of several that Houston officials are taking to make the city a better, or at least a better looking, place to live.

In August, KPRC 2 reported 100 billboards had been removed from city streets as part of a larger plan to eliminate 800 by the end of the year. The result of an agreement with Clear Channel, which The Houston Chronicle reported owns 90 percent of the billboards in Houston, the plan also stipulated other signs be relocated to different areas of the city.

The city also created a new park downtown, Discovery Green, in April, which Southern Living magazine called "the perfect city park," with an "eco-friendly mission."

Houston should continue beautification efforts such as this, and banning distracting and distasteful roadside advertisements will only help.

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