December 01, 2023

Facts Related to Efforts to Allow Significant Number of Electronic Billboards in Round Rock

Political Action Committee Seeks to Alter the City of Round Rock’s Charter

The City of Round Rock has received a large number of reports indicating residents and businesses are being approached with a petition for a City charter amendment associated with the “Keep Round Rock Safe” Political Action Committee (PAC). Mass mailings and home-to-home canvassing are also taking place. The petition and communications being disseminated indicate that the new electronic billboards have a strong focus on public safety.

To address this topic, the Round Rock Chamber has compiled a list of facts related to this initiative to assist in aiding the citizens of Round Rock with transparent, up-to-date information related to this campaign.

What is the “Keep Round Rock Safe” campaign? 

The “Keep Round Rock Safe” campaign is organized through a Political Action Committee (PAC) is executing a campaign to lobby the public and City of Round Rock to amend Article 14 of the City’s Home Rule Charter which would allow a private company to construct:

  • A maximum of 12 new privately-owned, operated, and funded freestanding off-premise, double-faced electronic billboards (24 advertising screens), also known as an Electronic Message Center, along IH-35 and SH-45 in the City of Round Rock and its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ)

Can new billboards be constructed in Round Rock? 

No new billboards are being permitted in the City of Round Rock as they are prohibited. Also, through past agreements with billboard owners, Round Rock has worked to reduce the number of off-premises billboards in our community.

How are signs currently regulated in Round Rock? 

The City of Round Rock has consistent, comprehensive, and well-planned zoning and development standards for signs to protect our quality of life and image. Current standards can be found here

Why are privately-owned electronic billboards that display off-premises advertising not allowed? 

Offsite advertising, whether electronic or not, is regulated by ARTICLE IX – SIGNS of the City of Round Rock zoning and development code to:

  • To protect and enhance the physical appearance of the community in a lawful manner by:
    • Providing standards for the appropriate design, scale, and placement of signs, and
    • Satisfying the community’s desires for signs that are attractive

Would adding electronic billboards impact Round Rock’s gold-rated “Scenic City” designation? 

Beautification of Round Rock and high quality of life are top priorities for our community and the Scenic Texas’ Scenic City Certification Program is a proven, highly-regarded tool for assessing these areas. Two key components of the grading criteria are:

  • On-premise sign regulation, and
  • Prohibition of new billboards

The addition of electronic billboards projecting offsite advertising would negatively impact Round Rock’s gold-rated “Scenic City” designation.

What additional ways could Electronic Messaging Centers negatively affect the City of Round Rock?

Electronic billboards are known to:

  • Cause light pollution
  • Create hazards and distractions to motorists and pedestrians
  • Decrease property values

An additional concern related to electronic billboards is the potential for offensive content to be prominently displayed on the new 24 advertising billboards (12 double-faced, tall constructions). The owners of these 24 advertising billboards would be allowed to contract this new advertising space to future customers who could choose to project sexually oriented, divisive, and offensive content throughout the City of Round Rock.

Does the City of Round Rock support this initiative? 

During several recent City Council meetings and retreats, the Council has discussed public safety and the lobbying efforts to allow new private-sector, electronic billboards to be constructed. The Council has determined that the current systems and alerts already in place work to ensure public safety and there is no desire from city leadership to alter the City’s Charter to allow the construction of additional electronic billboards or private electronic message centers.

The City of Round Rock continues to invest in best-in-class infrastructure, tools, and personnel to protect our community and we are consistently rated as one of the safest cities in America. Residents voted and approved the May 2023 bond for additional investments in public safety by the City of Round Rock. The efforts and campaign by the “Keep Round Rock Safe” lobbyists could be interpreted as a negative reflection on Round Rock’s very favorable public safety reputation.

Click here to read the City of Round Rock’s response to the PAC’s petition regarding electronic billboards.

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