Friday, December 30, 2011

Illegal Signs in Arlington: Remove 'Em or Report 'Em

We have discussed temporary sidewalk signs, real estate signs, and signs on utility poles.  Illegal signs are a problem.  They are ugly.  The people who place them dont remove them, adding to litter and garbage.  They pose visibility risks on roads and dangers to utility workers.  They are unfair to businesses that abide by the rules.  And aesthetically they are ugly (much like graffiti in a community).
So what should you do about illegal signs?  Here is what Arlington has to say:
Some citizens are aware of our sign regulations and already take it upon themselves to pick up illegal signs . . . What can residents do?  Either remove it or report it. To remove it, be sure that you are safe at all times from traffic and not on private property.  If it is safe to remove a sign, consider removing it and throwing it away.
Of course, that was Arlington, TX, not Arlington, VA.  

In Arlington, VA, if you remove signs you can get charged with a felony. Arlington County Board Chairman Christopher Zimmerman likewise has reportedly advised against citizens taking down illegal signs.  On the other hand, Civic Associations have considered a motion to make it legal for citizens to remove trash, er, I mean illegal signs.

This leaves a couple of questions.  

If these signs are illegal, are they not either litter or abandoned property?

If these signs are illegal, how can you be charged with a felony for removing them (particularly when the placers of the signs are not charged)?

One of my favorite responses to illegal signs, is to place another sign directly in front of the illegal sign, stating that the sign has been reported to Arlington County as illegal.

Perhaps Arlington County could make public data about its illegal sign enforcement efforts (how many signs have been removed, what enforcement actions have been taken, and what fines have been imposed).

In the mean time, that leaves reporting illegal signs to Arlington County Zoning Enforcement (but dont bother to send pictures of the illegal signs, because that crashes ArlCo's staff's computers and they dont like that very much ---> File Under: Really?). 

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