Scenic Texas Unveils New Guide to Provide Cities With Best Practices for ‘Model Ordinances’

Nonprofit Created Certification Program to Promote Sustainability, Conservation

January 18, 2022 – Austin, TX – Scenic Texas, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and
enhancement of our state’s visual environment, announced today that it has launched a first-
of-its-kind resource guide to help Texas cities realize their impact on human and natural
systems using ordinances and tools already being implemented by nearly 100 Texas cities.
For more than a decade, the nonprofit and its 18 program partners have worked to establish a
Scenic City Certification Program (SCCP). Eighty-five cities already have been designated as
“Scenic Cities,” and the program has reviewed more than 5,000 ordinances and municipal plans
as they relate to aesthetic infrastructure standards. 
“When a city joins the Scenic City Certification Program, it joins an elite class of cities that take
pride in the visual environment of their communities and are improving the quality of life for
residents while attracting tourists,” said Kendra Ralston, Scenic Texas Program Coordinator.
Through the SCCP, cities are ranked – bronze, gold, and platinum – based on their adherence to
cohesive scenic standards as that promote sustainability through environmental conservation,
economic management, and sense of place.
The SCCP provides cities with opportunities that help them enrich their resources, raise
awareness about environmental and conservation issues, and improve the overall quality of life
for residents, Ralston added.
The program identified “10 Visual Environment Tenets” that serve as the fundamental basis of
the Scenic City Certification Program application and process.
The 10 tenets were further examined this year using academically based research and industry
standard references through a joint effort between Scenic Texas and the University of Texas
School of Architecture, a private foundation. 
UT architecture graduate student Samantha Bernacki thoroughly reviewed the SCCP and
authored the resource guide to serve as a tool for community leaders and planners. By
highlighting best practices of the platinum and gold designated Scenic Cities, the resource guide
uses case studies intended to help new and recertifying cities visualize the outcomes that
specific ordinance and program language can create.
 
The resource guide can also be used to help gain support at the municipal level. In many case
studies, complicated ideas are unpacked and translated into visuals and narratives that are easy
to share and discuss with stakeholders across professions. 

“At Scenic Texas, we understand the collaborative and dynamic network of people required to
manage a city,” Ralston said. “Sometimes transparent and efficient conversations require taking
a step back to establish a set of shared values and goals as a foundation for the various
initiatives from different stakeholders.
“The resource guide is our effort to define the foundational values and goals set by some of
our most distinguished Scenic Cities so they can be adapted and used in cities across Texas,”
she added.
The SCCP is also committed to developing a network of Scenic Cities that can collaborate and
improve by sharing ideas and best practices.
 
In 2021, the program’s 12th class of certified cities featured 22 cities. The newest city to earn a
certification, Edinburg, brings the total number of certified Scenic Cities in Texas to 85.
Edinburg excelled in all 10 of the program’s high-quality visual standards. The city shines in
landscaping and tree protection ordinances as a Tree City USA, designated by the Arbor Day
Foundation, a distinction only two cities have achieved in the Rio Grande Valley’s four-county
region.

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