City Inspector Gives Thumbs Down to Texas Direct Auto’s Main St. Building Billboard

Billboard, 312 Main St., Downtown Houston

Were you kinda liking that new billboard installed on the second story of the building at 312 Main St. — the one that posed serious, possibly life-changing questions to passengers exiting the Preston St. light-rail station? Well, you’ve got less than 10 days to enjoy it, depending on long fast used-car-dealer Texas Direct Auto wants to take to comply with a city citation posted to the building yesterday — unless it can get those pesky inspectors to back off.

A notation on the red tag declares that the facade-smothering sign is in violation of the city’s sign code — namely that it was not erected in connection with a “business purpose”: “A business purpose shall not include any property, building, or structure erected or used for the primary purpose of securing a permit to erect a sign,” the note reads. (That echoes a portion of the definition in section 4602, in case you’re following along at home with regulations in hand.) Here’s a snapshot of the documents stuck to the building’s ground floor, as submitted to the Twitterverse by Houston Chronicle writer Evan Mintz, whose employer last week declared in an editorial that the sign should be illegal:


Signage Citations Posted to 312 Main St., Downtown Houston

But Texas Direct Auto appears already to have been working on that “business purpose” the inspector was complaining about. Last week’s Chronicle editorial indicates that the company had some sort of application pending with the city to open an 80-sq.-ft. office in the building.

Preston St. Station, Main St., Houston, 77002

Photos: Evan Mintz (notices); Swamplot inbox (sign and building)

A Red Tag Downtown

7 Comment

  • Section 4602 is a definition section. It defines. It does not regulate. And because there is no such thing as a violation of a definition section, the City is mistaken when it alleges that Texas Direct Auto has violated Section 4602. The City should have referred Texas Direct Auto to Section 4611(d) (“Business Purpose Required”) and Section 4612 (regulating “Off-Premise Signs”). Those sections are actually capable of being violated–much like my expectation that the City would hold itself out to the highest of standards when it attempted to enforce the law.

  • It’s like the pop-up ad that you can’t get to go away.

    Trashy sign, trashy business.

  • 80 sq ft downtown office for a used vehicle dealership that has a massive facility on the SW Freeway? How do you know when an car dealer is lying? His lips are moving.

  • lawdy: lol, you’re funny. Try to make that argument when avoiding paying the fine. The phrase ‘you can’t fight city call’ exists for a reason.
    I’ve been cited worse, for less legit reasons.

  • Why can’t they design an “old fashioned” sign, like the ones you used to see painted on the oldest buildings downtown? Then the sign would fit in just fine.

  • Regardless of what happens, with all this publicity they have gotten their money’s worth.

  • there is another sign south of toyota center (i think on Pease St)