New Signs Declare Photo Shoots Will No Longer Be Allowed on North and South Boulevards

Quick, name your Top 10 quintessential images of Houston. The Water Wall, maybe? Buffalo Bayou Park looking toward downtown? And how about one of those aerial views of flooded neighborhoods? But what about a view more likely to spur real estate sales, like the double rows of coastal live oaks lining North and South boulevards in Broadacres?

A new set of signs erected this week in the boulevards’ iconic esplanades have something to say about that often seen scene: “WELCOME TO BROADACRES,” they read, “NO PHOTO SHOOTS.” The signs go on to describe other local menaces such as unleashed dogs and their residue, and note that the esplanades as well as the park on the east side of Parkway Dr. are privately owned.


Identical signs have been posted at the end of every block within the Broadacres Historic District in Boulevard Oaks — on West Blvd. and on North and South boulevards between West Blvd. and Parkway.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Brides Be Gone

67 Comment

  • The esplanades are privately owned?

  • Good luck with that….

    Someone should build a highrise! ;)

  • Is this legal? Are they privately owned?

  • Private property ? Owned by who?

    The “park” on the east side of Parkway is owned by the “Broadacres Trust Co.” according the HCAD But, I suspect that the parkway along North and South Blvd are public land.

    Can anyone prove me wrong?

  • Someone should tell the Harris County Appraisal District that the esplanades are privately owned… they appear to be ROW on HCAD website… Wouldn’t want the county or city to miss out on that extra tax revenue

  • Enforcement will be an interesting proposition since there is an implied easement.

  • The subdivision plat indeed shows the 53 feet wide esplanades on North, South, and West boulevards, complete with the circular islands and the center walks. However, HCAD map does not show any private lot on those roads, so the “Privately Owned” claim is likely not correct. The esplanades are likely public ROW that may be privately maintained.

  • Just have to walk down the public street and shoot the esplanade in the background. I’m sure they will love it.

  • I don’t look forward to the brides-to-be or engaged couples being shooed away by who…Broad Acres owners?…private security?

    Next step I suspect will be a “No Trespassing” sign.

  • Went for a Sunday drive in my convertible with my wife and dog. There were many groups taking wedding photos. And I thought how nice a setting it is for that. Private property, yes. But why get so snippy about this issue.

  • If not private property, are those signs bandits?

  • Nearby homeowners have been known to yell at people walking/running on the brick path and tell them to move to the street or the sidewalk. I do believe the esplanade is privately owned so it must be a liability issue.

  • While the Park appears to be privately owned, by the Broadacres Trust Co, and while I’m sure the same entity maintains the esplanade, HCAD maps seem to indicate that the esplanades are platted as public rights of way.
    BTW, the park land is valued for property tax purposes at the rate of $0.05/s.f., while actually land values in the area are around 2000 times higher. So, while it is privately held, it also benefits from a generous tax subsidy. Can’t have it both ways.

  • Is that right that the esplanade was retained? And what’s the deal with the parkland only being taxed at a cumulative value of $20,000 per year?

  • Yes, the park on Parkway is owned by the Broadacres Trust but I highly doubt the esplanades are privately owned
    and how is this park only valued at $19,000????

  • I think that we should have a Flash Mob Photo Shoot.

  • This is easy to figure out. Have someone find a loose bring on the path and do a Saul Goodman on the esplanade. Whoever answers the lawsuit is the owner.

    The real issue here is what the f— is so wrong with people taking pictures on the esplanade? Are they using turn of the century flash powder? Or are the going all Zoolander and blasting music and shouting out directions?

  • The 1% strikes again.

  • Some one do a photo shoot of couple dogs pinching a loaf on that brick path and email it to the Broadacres association.

  • Note, the sidewalks on the esplanades are the only sidewalks on those streets. The only other walking option is IN THE STREET. I can’t see how they can even try to enforce this.

    I wonder if all of this was done by the same “lady” that yelled at me for parking in front of her house on South Blvd. Saying something about “I pay taxes for these streets” yadda yadda yadda…

    And I feel sorry for the patrol that has to deal with these yahoos trying to enforce their elitist interpretations of property law. I hope s/he gets paid enough for therapy.

  • “I do what i want.”


  • this will very likely backfire. it is already resulting in unwanted scrutiny and attention, and will likely result in an increase in the number of photoshoots. i dont get it. if you live in this neighborhood, you’ve got it made, man. relax and enjoy it. damn.

  • Those are very public facing properties. You know that when you buy there. I guess they will deter engagement photos as if those people don’t help keep crime away. This is an idiotic idea. When ordinary ppl clear out, the hobos will take over.

    Property rights are important, but when you buy an iconic mansion on an iconic street, don’t be upset when people walk by and enjoy the view. I get people walking by my house every day and there has only ever been one negative interaction.

    The people in River Oaks seem to be much more civic minded with the azalea trail and holiday lights.

  • Sounds toxic; maybe someone will just pull the sign out already? These people ruin everything they touch, might as well pre-empt them from ruining this as well.

  • The signs are bandits AND the pretty brick path is encroaching! Dig ’em up, move ’em out.
    However, I understand what I imagine is the residents’ complaint. Graduates, prom groups, bridezillas along with their entourages can result in poorly-behaved, self-absorbed, littering, double-parking mobs. Seen it.
    Best revenge is to start blowing leaves whenever anybody shows up on the esplanade. This group could afford to hire a full-time yard guy to only jump into action at such times!
    Then, there are always gated communities for people who don’t want life interrupting their beautiful street.

  • What’s their thoughts on Obama?

  • “Is this legal?”
    To what? Put up a sign that says “No photography” ? Sure it’s legal to do so. Also totally legal to ignore it. Who the hell cares about a sign?

  • I wonder if they are trampling grass and causing wear and tear on the sidewalks. Giving benefit of the doubt to the homeowners, perhaps there were recent increases to association fees to repair portions of the esplanades. I don’t know anyone that lives in that neighborhood anymore, but am assuming the issue didn’t come out of nowhere.

  • perhaps all the trashy amateurs that call themselves Photographers that trash the sidewalk and streets with confetti, cake smash and all the debris that they leave behind. you cant stop busy bodies but some of the “photographers” give them good reason to want to ban shoot. #my2cents

  • Those signs don’t say on who’s authority they are written or give any point of contact. Illegal? I suspect they won’t last long.

  • With all of those iconic mansions on both sides of the street, surely they can have a have a better maintained walkway that doesn’t have sections with serious puddles every time it rains.

  • Send these snobs an accurate tax bill.

  • By that I meant ruining a perfectly good public esplanade by cordoning it off seemingly to be exclusively used by…nobody.

  • It seems to me the only way they could really own the esplanade is if they bought the street, like Courtlandt Place!

  • it’s a rogue sign. please ignore and continue your self(ie) indulgence

  • I’d be willing to bet that moveocelot is exactly right. If you walk down the street and snap a selfie, no one will probably care. But wedding party and prom photos can involve a lot of people, and some of them might very well leave a mess and/or block traffic.

  • I am curious – If this is now being declared private property; is there any legal precedent for the continued public use of the land in question since the private property rules have not been enforced in the years prior?

  • HCAD keeps privately-owned parkland (and other common areas or flood control) on the tax roll, but assesses it at what they call a “nominal value”. In a lot of cases, it’s a flat $100 or some other arbitrary very-low figure. The idea is that privately owned common areas which is paid for by those property owners contribute to the market value of private property when it sells. To appraise/assess it would be double taxation. I tend to agree with that approach (and I agree that there should be exceptions, such as with golf courses), but I don’t understand why they don’t establish a clear policy and apply it consistently.

  • As a close relative of a Broadacres resident I will report what I know. Yes, the esplanades are privately owned and maintained by the homeowners and the signs are legal. The reason for the signs was the volume of people taking pictures, I have lived there for 15+ years and it has never been this bad. In the evenings you will have 2, 3 or 4 groups of people on each block taking pictures and it’s not just people that are the problem, it’s all of the props (sofa, chairs, tables, GLITTER, lighting) that they bring with them too. As some commenters have pointed out, some homeowners have approached those taking pictures and gotten back a lot of attitude and some form of “This is public property”. Err, well, no it isn’t actually. The signs were a compromise to discourage further pictures and serve as an initial educational campaign. If it back fires or the signs are ignored there will most likely be some sort of security enforced permitting in place or, the nuclear option, buying out the streets from the city and gating the neighborhood.

  • I have a great idea. I am going to drive my kids over there and give them a few bucks to take the signs down. The homeowners can take a flying leap off a tall building. Fascist elitists clearly feel emboldened in the age of Orange Cheeto Dust Man.

  • Or just sell the esplanade to the city…it’s probably within an easement anyway. Kind of a gross situation anyway – sounds like Broadacres residents have decided the world owes them something, but haven’t yet learned how to give back.

  • @Broadacres Brat – I’d suggest asking your relative to first check with HCAD, because right now there’s absolutely zero evidence that the esplanade is privately owned. Until they get that straightened out, hiring security to chase people off what appears to be public property is just going to get the dickens sued out of the HOA. But it sure sounds to me like a case of “but we thought we owned that” right now.

  • Every one of you haters would be the first to get pissed when someone parks on the public street in front of your house. Inka Waves, do it yourself. You have to hide behind your kids? Fascist elitests? Thats a lot of hate and anger. Who has their boot on your neck?

  • @ Brat

    Better go w/ the nuclear option. Safer really. Eventually the unclean masses are going to rise up. You will want a gated community when that happens.

  • Privately owned or not, a public easement has clearly been established over the past 50+ years. No need to move your photo shoot.

  • If the HCAD map is showing that the Boulevards are public streets and no separate parcel for the esplanades, then they are publicly owned and cannot exclude the public without some sort of City of Houston action. The HOA may pay to maintain them (as many HOAs do), but private maintenance private ownership.
    None of this is to discount the annoyance neighbors might feel about the photography sessions. But, unless these groups are actually violating City behavior ordinances, it’s something the residents will have to live with, unless they want to go through the r.o.w. abandonment process and take the street private. This is part of living in the (very) middle of a big city.

  • Hope they enjoy me taking photos from the public street in front of their homes.

  • Someone should call the City of Houston bandit sign enforcement…. $500/sign. These are clearly illegal signs….. I would be surprised if the esplanade was private.

  • we had our wedding photos taken here w professional photographer. we did have a fair number of people (+20) and several cars parked unobtrusively along the street, although everyone maintained quiet & civil behavior.

    were rather shocked to have a homeowner interrupt and inform us that we were unwelcome, and another to walk her dog right through the middle of our photo session. we continued anyway and got wonderful pictures, but were sad to learn there is some ugliness in that beautiful neighborhood

  • @J – why would anybody get pissed when someone parks in front of their house? That’s just stupid.

    If the wedding photos are that annoying the residents could recruit middle aged neighbors to wander around in thongs in frame of the photos. That might make it a less appealing setting.

  • J – really? I have no idea who parks in front of my house, but (as I have a house with space for a car in front, and much of the neighborhood is townhouses with driveways too closely spaced for on-street parking) there’s generally one car or another in front. Never occurred to me to complain. And the only complaints I see on NextDoor or 311 are people complaining about blocked driveways or cars left unmoved for multiple days, both of which are against city regulations and can get you a ticket – not nimbyism. But I live in Montrose; things may be different in your area.

  • The residents of that neighborhood likely made the vast majority of their fortunes looting the common good in one form or another. Small wonder, then, that they’re so attuned to the ‘tragedy of the commons.’

  • Content- so the Doctor that spends a month every year volunteering to help Central American people with their eyesight is somehow stealing from you? Or what about the other that volunteers for Doctors Without Boarders? Nice houses and neighborhoods aren’t holding you back. Envy for people that are smarter and more ambitious is holding you down. Get that chip off of your shoulder and I guarantee good things will happen.

  • @J sorry, but you know what they say – there’s one born every minute. Graze safely!

  • conent’s comment about “looting the common good” is an unsettling look into the psyche of those that would would steal your livelihood on the premise that your success makes you a target. Abhorrent and dangerous.

  • I can understand the homeowners’ frustration after reading the Chron article. It sounds like some of these groups have really gotten out of hand – driving a Jeep down the esplanade, seriously? It’s a shame that large and disrespectful groups have ruined the experience for everyone.
    If the title search does confirm that the HOA owns the esplanades, they should be allowed to restrict access. BUT they should also pay taxes on the esplanades at a comparable price/sq ft as the neighboring properties are assessed at. Fair is fair.
    On the other hand, if the esplanades are city-owned (which seems more likely), then tough titty – the HOA has no authority to prohibit photoshoots. It’s sad that residents will have to put up with rude groups and the messes that they live behind, but…at the end of the day, that’s just another part of big-city living. Go buy a ranch or move to a gated community if you don’t like it.

  • NIMBY. If this were in your backyard, would you want it? You think of yourself and how you treat public spaces but I read comments about the traffic and trash and get it. We visited a Houston park and at the Chinese pagoda, someone had a birthday party and left the uneaten cake, wrapping from the presents, etc. and trash all over the place! I’ve been to other parks and have seen the same. Those venues have regular paid cleaning crews albeit at our expense. Houston has plenty of beautiful public spaces so if the esplanades are proved to be private property, so be it.

  • My experience may or may not be germane. My home backs up to a flood control ROW on a creek. However, I own the ROW property from my fence line to the center of that creek. It is very common for property to be both privately owned and include a ROW for any number of reasons. Behind my fence is a very old live oak tree on which I have hung a lovely sitting swing. A number of years back, I granted Harris County an easement to construct a hike and bike path across my property. The easement was for the width of the path only. I have not shooed people away from my swing. I have placed a sign asking for people not to climb on my fence. Usually there are no problems and it’s a great way for me to meet my neighbors. BUT, from time-to-time kids and even adults will abuse the swing or my tree and I will politely ask them to stop. Many of the reactions that I get from people are beyond unexpected in their rudeness and disrespect. It seems that the if they think it’s county property they feel like they can treat it differently that if it were privately owned. I feel like the “get off my yard guy” sometimes, but I spend a lot of time maintaining the property (yes I maintain the tree, landscaping and slope) and even clear the path all year long. I sympathize with the residents that have to deal with people mistreating their residential area whether they own it or not. While you may be entitled to traverse a residential ROW, I don’t think you should be able to camp out there and conduct elaborate photo shoots for what sounds like hours on end.

  • @ J: Not all physicians are bad people, but physicians as a group benefit from the lobbying efforts of professional organizations at the federal and state levels, which seek to place rather severe constraints on the supply of qualified labor. They do this both by limiting who can provide certain health services and also by placing constraints on the number and size of medical schools. In a demand inelastic market, this results in much higher prices for physician-performed services; and in health institutions, this has resulted in reduced time spent by physicians with each patient. So…yes, even if a physician is not individually responsible for killing people, they are benefiting from policies which do this for their financial benefit. If they’re really able to give back to their community in really a very big way, then okay maybe they can absolve themselves of this. Some do. But I wouldn’t presume that that is this hypothetical case of a hypothetical physician living in Broadacres — or that their philanthropy and that alone justifies the actions of their HOA. You know, I’m certainly not one of those unruly peasants wielding pitchforks indiscriminately at wealth, but you need to do a lot better job authoring defensive hyper-reactionary fictitious non sequiturs. Or, you know, you could just argue your case on its merits.
    @ Everybody Else: Do not think for a second that putting these esplanades on the tax rolls will result in a material amount of property tax revenue! HCAD appraises private common area land at almost no value at all because it is presumed to be factored into the market value of the homes within the HOA. This isn’t unreasonable because the alternative would be a complex and imprecise attempt to net out the value of common areas from the homes. If you go to HCAD’s advanced search and type in 2004 to the land code (for “Res Open Space/Retention Land”) and nearby zip codes (like 77006, 77005, 77030), what you’ll find is that if anything Broadacres is paying too much in property taxes because HCAD is inconsistent in the way that it applies this principle between land and improvements.

  • @turning_basin there are countless ways to make a mint without looting the common good, reaping what others have sowed, or living a life of bad faith. See if you can figure one out!

  • I also personally know people that have been threatened to have their cars towed by homeowners on this street. The homeowners state that it is a private street and people that park there to catch the light rail are breaking this law. This is a lie. These are public streets. Their verbally abusive intimidation of people is the only thing borderline illegal.

  • content, what are you talking about? You imply they are guilty because you think they “likely looted the common good”. What if a majority didn’t ? Maybe only a small percentage? Maybe none? Your jealousy at someone else’s position in life is telling. Maybe you should find one of these ways “to make a mint” so you don’t have to rabble about others’ success.

  • @turning_basin see, now it almost sounds like you think Broadacres residents are jealous of photographers’ livelihoods. oh, those mean ol’ photographers – every single last one of ’em!

  • i’m not defending the homeowners actions, only calling out your ignorance. insight, get some.

  • Nothing provokes the local Bolsheviks like an article about the Boulevard Oaks neighborhoods.