phoenix messy yard cops selectivelly enforcing unconstitional illegal sign laws

Signs along streets illegal and irritating Owners to be contacted on law violation

Katie Ruark The Arizona Republic Dec. 9, 2005 12:00 AM

PHOENIX - Signs along the streets that advertise everything from home loans to yard sales don't just irritate motorists and litter roads, they can get their owners in trouble.

What most people don't know, city officials say, is that placing such signs is illegal according to a longtime city zoning ordinance.

The city's Neighborhood Services Department is hoping to get the word out so people voluntarily stop doing it. The city's Graffiti Busters also will confiscate signs if they see them. Once the signs are confiscated, workers use the signs' contact information to send letters to people alerting them that the signs are illegal. If the problem persists, the person is cited.

However, the city has issued only nine citations since April 2003. The citations can result in fines ranging from $250 to $2,500 per violation.

"We educate residents on the illegal-sign ordinance and seek their cooperation," Neighborhood Programs Coordinator William Hogans said.

Realtors are allowed to use "open house" and "for sale" signs as long as they are out of the right of way and on private property. People also can apply to put up signs through the city.

"We like to remind people that they can be very dangerous," said Ken Lynch, from the city. "They really shouldn't do it."

The signs were made illegal because the city found them to be hazardous. Signs can fall into the streets and on sidewalks and can block pedestrian and motorist views. They can also force pedestrians and bicyclists to move closer to moving traffic.

"They put the sign in to distract drivers and divert their attention to the business," Hogans said.

The signs also interfere with utility poles. Utility company employees have a harder time climbing the poles when they have nails sticking out of them.

"People are irritated by it," Lynch said. "The community would rather not see signs. Please try to live up to those standards."

The city suggests that people run ads in the newspaper or community publications or post notices on bulletin boards at businesses that have them.

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