City of Houston v. Clear Channel Outdoor

In City of Houston v. Clear Channel Outdoor, 233 S.W.3d 441 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2007, no pet.), the City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering offered to purchase Clear Channel's billboard, located on property destined for a street reconstruction project. 233 S.W.3d at 443. The Department made the purchase offer "subject to City Council approval" and contingent on successful negotiation with the property owners. Id. The Department accompanied its offer to Clear Channel with a proposed contract signed by an employee of the engineering firm retained by the city for the construction project. Id. A few months later, the Houston city council considered a motion recommending that the city be authorized to condemn the property, including the billboard. Id. The motion described the billboard and specified the price offered to its owner. Id. It passed unanimously. Id. at 444. Afterward, however, the city claimed that the billboard's placement "was not legally permissible," and, as a result, that it was not obligated to compensate Clear Channel for removing the sign. Id. In affirming the trial court's denial of the city's plea to the jurisdiction, our sister court concluded that contract was properly executed on behalf of the city. Id. at 447. Pursuant to municipal ordinance, the passed motion became effective five days after passage, with or without the mayor's signature. Id. at 446. The court observed that the motion presented to the city council recited the contract's essential terms, including the valuation for the billboard, which the Department's senior staff appraiser had reviewed and recommended for approval. Id. at 447. The terms of the offer conditionally accepted in the purchase agreement were identical to those set forth in the motion passed by the city council. Id.