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Bandit signs

It’s campaign season so there’s a lot more of these around.

Local and state laws long have outlawed the placement of signs on public rights of way – the land alongside roadways, including utility poles and the area around them – but that does not stop countless candidates and small businesses from planting their advertisements there.

The illegal marketing repeats itself on freeway overpasses, utility poles, vacant lots and medians much faster than city crews can take them down. The city of Houston’s three employees whose full-time job is to impound illegal signs collected 11,000 so-called “bandit signs” last month.

That leaves plenty of work for a handful of volunteers who take it upon themselves to remove illegal signs.

Or, in the case of Rick Hurt, paint them over.

Driving about town in a white Chevy Lumina with the words “Blight Buster” on the back, Hurt seeks out offending signs and uses a paint roller on a pole to get to the signs he cannot reach or that he cannot take down safely.

Hurt targets signs of any stripe on public property. He takes particular satisfaction in the role he and other anti-sign activists played in a $105,000 judgment against a credit company for sign violations.

My kind of guy. Seems to me there’s an opportunity that’s being missed here. Given the amount of fines that can be levied against them, there ought to be a better way to go after the violators. Maybe we need to look at the ordinances and see if it’s possible to provide some kind of financial incentive for private citizens to pursue the complaints. I don’t know how that might work, but I’m sure someone with better knowledge of the system than I can come up with something. I’d bet it would be very popular, too. What do you think? Greg has more.

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One Comment

  1. Robert White says:

    Take a look at the Houston Municipal Center on West Gray. According to the election judge there, the Mayor and the City Attorney “gave permission” for all of those signs to be illegally placed there.

    And it is worse this year than ever before, because now they are permitting the illegal signs inside the fence.