Arlington County told me that signs on utility poles are always illegal - but they didnt provide the rule that says this.
Utility poles tend to be owned by the power companies (and they lease access to the poles to everyone else, like telephone and cable companies). Arlington's power company is Dominion Power. Giving Dominion's website a good going over, I could not find a clear statement by the power company that they disfavor signs on their utility poles. Many other utilities clarify that signs on poles are justification for being placed on the naughty list. NOVEC states signs on utility poles are illegal, but then cites to Virginia Ordinance 33.1-373 which deals with signs on state highways, not utility poles. NOVEC goes on to explain why signs on utility poles, which are usually secured with staples or nails, are a problem:
The nails and screws used to post signs create direct and indirect hazards for NOVEC crews. The primary danger is that these sharp objects can tear the rubber gloves and sleeves our employees wear to protect them from getting electrocuted. A secondary danger is the damage that’s done to the pole. Over time, water seeps into holes surrounding nails, damaging the pole. Eventually the pole deteriorates and has to be replaced, creating another expense for NOVEC.
But is it illegal?
The two times that Arlington Zoning Ordinance Section 34 mentions signs and utility poles, it states that the particular placement in question is illegal:
- No real estate signs on utility poles. Sec. 34.E.9
- No political signs on utility poles. Sec. 34.E.15.b
Also remember that unpermitted temporary sidewalk signs are only allowed immediately in front of the commercial establishment. If the sign is not in front of the store, and is not permitted (and if its attached to a utility pole, its a good bet they dont have a permit), then the placement of the commercial sign is not allowed under the Arlington code.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Well as always you can contact the Arlington Zoning Enforcement office. But these poles belong to Dominion Power. So it seems like it would make sense to contact Dominion Power.