On A Mission To Stop Illegal Signs
Pols, Civics Combat Unsighlty Posts
Fed up with the proliferation of illegal signs on street lamps and trees around Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, local elected officials are cracking down on the unsightly advertisements— and a civic group wants residents to have greater power in helping to prosecute the offenders.
City Council Member Eric Ulrich and Assemblyman Mike Miller joined enforcement officers with the Sanitation Department (DSNY) last Monday, Nov. 21, to remove illegal advertisements found on utility poles along a number of commercial strips in the three neighborhoods, including Jamaica Avenue, 101st Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard and Lefferts Boulevard.
In all, 30 signs were removed in the effort, and the DSNY enforcement officers retrieved phone numbers and business names from each of them in order to issue summonses to those responsible for their placement around the communities, according to a press release issued by Ulrich.
“Derelict businesses that disregard our city’s laws in search of a quick buck simply don’t care about the neighborhood or our quality of life,” Ulrich said. “These eyesores litter our commercial corridors, making
-SEE SIGNS ON PG. 35- the area less inviting for merchants and shoppers, and often block street signs at busy intersections.”
“This issue is about the quality of life. The people who put these signs up do not care about the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Miller said. “The signs are an eyesore, can damage trees and promote businesses that can prey upon people. It’s important to remember that if you see these signs popping up in your community to call our office or 311 so that a fine may be imposed. We will continue to be diligent in fighting against these signs.”
“Creating partnerships is one way for us to help keep our great city clean,” said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. “I applaud Council Member Ulrich and Assembly Member Miller for taking the initiative in their districts to bring the community and our Enforcement Division together to help eliminate the visual pollution created by illegally posted signs.”
Residents can report illegal signs around the community to the city’s 311 hotline; according to Ulrich, the DSNY’s enforcement officers will respond to such complaints within seven business days.
Businesses and persons who post signs illegally on city streets face fines of $75 for each sign taped or stapled to a telephone pole or a street lamp and $150 for each sign that is found secured to a street tree.
Even so, the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) wants the city and state to go even further in their crackdown against illegal signs by passing legislation enabling private citizens to remove the signs on their own, and then submit testimony and photos of the advertisements to the Sanitation Depart- ment for prosecution.
The civic group noted that it was recently informed by Sanitation Department officials that only a trained officer of the law or a DSNY official has the authority to remove illegal signs and use them as evidence to issue summonses to businesses and individuals responsible for their placement.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Sanitation cannot remove signs as quickly as private citizens can, and every hour that an illegal sign remains visible is an incentive for unscrupulous businesses to flout the law with their eyesore advertisements,” the WRBA stated in a press release.
In their letter to Ulrich and Miller, the WRBA noted that empowering citizens to remove illegal signs on their own “is a win-win policy,” as it r would “relieve the Department of Sanitation of some of the burden of enforcement, diminishes the incentives companies have to break the law and leaves in tact the chance to pursue legal recourse against law breakers.”
The WRBA noted that the city’s Administration Code allows for residents to provide sworn statements or testimony to the city to help stop illegal dumping, providing legal precedent for the illegal sign removal legislation it favors.
“The Block Association has been relentless in tearing down illegal signs. We have a zero tolerance approach,” said Ed Wendell, WRBA president. “But we need the law to be on our side. We applaud our local representatives’ willingness to recognize this problem in our community, and we hope that they and other lawmakers will help make this common sense change we’re suggesting to preserve our neighborhood’s character.”
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