Subscribe Now!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Great Sign Debate - Update

Wednesday, March 18th, a divided Los Angeles Planning Commission failed to overhaul the city's billboard law with some members saying a proposed sign ordinance grants too many exceptions to the outdoor advertising industry. The panel, which needed five votes to send a rewritten sign law to the City Council, deadlocked on a series of 4-3 votes.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission re-voted Thursday, March 26th to recommend dramatically reworked restrictions on signs that would ban digital billboards and super graphics -- the vinyl signs stretched across the sides of buildings -- throughout most of the city.The commission voted 6 to 3 to forward the ordinance to the City Council, which is expected to vote on the measure by June, when a temporary sign moratorium is set to expire. The council hopes to approve the billboard rules before June, when a six-month sign moratorium expires. Planning officials already are reviewing requests from council members and real estate developers for seven billboard districts in such areas as Mid-City, Hollywood and Universal City. The proposed law also would allow certain exceptions to the city's sign rules for development projects that are larger than 100,000 square feet. Voting against the measure were commissioners Michael Woo, Cindy Montanez and Father Spencer Kezios. Last week, they voiced dismay that the plan provided too many exceptions for new signs.

Under the proposal, most new signs in Los Angeles -- including "sale" signs painted on storefront windows and gas station pole signs -- would be significantly smaller than those currently allowed, half the size in some cases. Signs and billboards that already have city permits would not be affected by the measure.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Sign Debate

Picture by Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times

The great sign debate continues in Los Angeles! Not sure I’m too surprised by that after they extended the moratorium until today (March 26) in December of 08’ then extended it again until May 10th on February 24, 09’. However, the ICO [Interim Control Ordinance] still expires today and, according to a statement from Councilman Jack Weiss' office in February, if the ICO is allowed to lapse for even one day, "a flurry of illegal signs could be installed and be nearly impossible to remove later." As parts of the battle play out in court, complicated by free-speech questions, billboard companies have rushed to put up as many new signs as they can. The result is a legal and political mess.

“In recent weeks, fueled by anger about what public officials have allowed opportunistic billboard companies to get away with, the Great Signage Debate has become L.A.'s version of the AIG bonus scandal, with political posturing to match. Fresh drama is likely to unfold this morning, when the Planning Commission meets in Van Nuys to try to break its recent deadlock, pass a new sign ordinance and send it along to the City Council (Christopher Hawthorn, March 26, 2009).”

Because I recently blogged about this in Moratorium extended on digital signs in L.A., I thought I would share L.A.’s great signage debate by Christopher Hawthorn which was printed in the Los Angeles Times today. It is a more philosophical look at the mess surrounding this debate and the reasons behind it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sign Ordinance Changes in Rockford for Campaign Season

In Rockford, Illinois, the Rockford Park District has amended the sign ordinance it previously adhered to regarding political sign placement. By law, the Park District must allow political signs on its property; however, several provisions were added to address the many questions that have been raised every campaign season. Some ordinance amendments included:

Signs placed so as to interfere with regularly-scheduled lawn mowing or other maintenance, may be removed by the Rockford Park District staff or designees, as may be reasonably necessary for such mowing or other maintenance.

There may be no more than two signs for any candidate per site.

The signs must be removed within 48 hours following the election, and any signs remaining after that time may be disposed of by Rockford Park District.

All such advertising shall comply with applicable municipal ordinances such as City of Rockford, City of Loves Park and Village of Cherry Valley. Exception being the sign can be no larger than 10 square feet in area on one side.

The current Park District advertising restrictions permit removing signs if they do not comply with these guidelines. The Park District does not allow signs to be placed on any structure or thing such as buildings, existing signs, fences, poles, or trees. The signs cannot interfere with the intended use of the park or enjoyment of a particular park property, such as the playing areas of softball fields, golf courses, soccer fields, or in gardens and landscaped areas such as the Rose Garden and boulevards. Park District staff will notify the candidates campaign headquarters if anything is not in compliance with the ordinance.


For a PDF copy of this information, click here.
Information for this article was taken from WREX, WFIR, and the Rockford Park Districts 100NewsRelease.
For more information, please contact Tim Dimke at 815-987-8800 or send an email to

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a sign!

SO... this is a bit of a change from my general blog posts but, seeing as the sign was just too funny to pass up, I couldn't help myself.

All people tend to engage in a bit of moaning and groaning on occasion... even a little bit of self pity... but when it gets to the point that they can share only the moaning, groaning, and self pity with the world, they have officially engaged in whining.

Wouldn't it be great to have a sign like this posted? Think about it... the whining begins - all you have to do is point to the sign like a librarian on a silence mission and wait. The whiner will either be affronted that you have had the audacity to actually point the sign out (in which case a deep silence will ensue), or the whiner will stop whining. In either case, you are once again granted peace of mind. :-P


Monday, March 16, 2009

Las Vegas Icon

The famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign has moved one step closer to being placed in the National Register of Historic Places. The state board of museums on Friday nominated the sign for placement on the list managed by the National Park Service.

After a meeting of the state Board for Museums and History in Carson City, paperwork to include the sign can move forward, county spokesman Erik Pappa said. The sign could be included as soon as May.

“This sign has become a very important symbol for our community,” Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, whose district includes the sign, said in a statement. “Untold thousands have had their photos taken in front of the sign. Placing the sign in the National Register makes eminent sense, especially now during the county’s centennial year.”

In its application, the county argues the neon sign is a cultural icon and a notable example of modern architecture. The county cites the sign's historic significance as an icon of post-World War II entertainment, tourism and advertising industries. It says the sign is "an excellent example of Exaggerated Modern/Googie architecture" and notes that designer Betty Whitehead Willis was a Las Vegas native who had a respected career as a graphic designer. The sign was created in 1959. It reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” on the front and “Come Back Soon” on the back.


Original story by Cara McCoy
Las Vegas Sun
Fri, Mar 13, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Battle of the Signs

A church group and an atheist group in Madison, Wisconsin, are taking their rivalry on the road. It appears that both groups are currently using ad space on Madison Transit buses in what I call the "Battle of the Signs". This, however, isn't an entirely new phenomenon. Beginning on February 9th, three Christian groups in London launched advertisements on more than 200 buses in response to a month long campaign that began January 6th by atheists, agnostics and other nonbelievers that saw 800 London buses plastered with a less God-fearing slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation appears to be following in the footsteps of the Londoners by spending $2,100 on six signs appearing for up to two months inside 50 buses. Each sign has a quotation questioning religion or giving reasons for not believing. The Foundation is concentrating on interior bus advertising because it is more affordable than exterior ads, and permits more meaningful messages.

"Interior bus signs have the benefit of a 'captive audience' of bored passengers, so we hope riders in Madison will find our signs diverting," added Gaylor.

A quote from the late actress Butterfly McQueen, famous for her typecast role as "Prissy" in the movie, "Gone with the Wind," says, "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."

A four-line poem by Emily Dickinson is also featured.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has created many adds featuring people such as Richard Dawkins (author of the blockbuster bestseller, The God Delusion), Clarence Darrow, Katharine Hepburn, and a cryptic quote from "Puddinhead Wilson" by Mark Twain as well as Butterfly McQueen and EMily Dickinson.

In response to the ads, Pilgrims Covenant Church in Monroe said this week it purchased space on the outside of 11 Metro Transit buses for an ad quoting Psalm 14, verse 1: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."

The church's ads, costing about $5,000, cover a large part of one side of each bus. The Rev. Ralph Ovadal said the foundation has a right to air its opinion, and the church has "the privilege to respond with truth from the word of God."

Madison Metro spokesman Mick Rusch said any ad sales help the bus system.

Similar atheist campaigns have run in Barcelona, Madrid and Washington, D.C. But since its Jan. 6th launch, the London scheme has been credited with inspiring atheist bus campaigns in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany and Italy, where next month posters in Genoa will read, "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him."

Campaigns between atheist groups and church organizations have been an ongoing thing since as far back as I can recall. It should not be shocking that they would take this type of war into the public scene. What does shock me is the blatant "in your face" way they are going about it. Being in the sign industry I take pride in the work we do and the accomplishments we can help others achieve with our products. In a situation such as this however, I find I can only hang my head. Perhaps I am simply biased in the belief that a persons religion is their own to determine...

In any case, signs are the name of the game so let the "Battle of the Signs" commence! I bet this sign is bigger anyway and, not only is it much more magical, it's the largest wrap in Vegas :-)


For more information on the story above, please refer to these links:
The Chicago Tribune
TIME World News
Wisconsin State Journal

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Realtor Wars Caught on Camera!

I was perusing the recent blog posts for yesterday and today, and came across the piece below. As many people know, especially during election time, yard signs tend to grow legs and walk away, get torched, or vandalized in many different ways. Most of the time, there really isn't much that authorities can do to combat this type of behavior because they generally don't have evidence as to who the vandalizing party is. Art Mullen, of South Mills, North Carolina, decided to take extra measures and caught his vandal on camera...

A Fort Mill real estate agent ended up in handcuffs after he was allegedly caught on tape cutting down a competitor's business sign.

"Shows him vandalizing the sign, stomping down the sign, that's when I called the authorities," said realtor Art Mullen.

NewsChannel 36 cameras were there when deputies with the York County Sheriff's Office took real estate agent Daniel LaFranca Jr. into custody Monday afternoon. The deputies were serving a damage of property warrant.

"Were you vandalizing your competitor's signs?" we asked LaFranca as deputies escorted him into a squad car.

"Not at all," LaFranca responded.

However, Mullen says his hidden camera video solved a five-month mystery.

"I've had a lot of my signs go ahead getting cut up, stolen, vandalized and I never really knew who it was," Mullen said. "I was frustrated. So what I did is I had some friends and some colleagues, we set up video surveillance."

Mullen claims the surveillance video shows his former boss, LaFranca, using a box cutter to slash his sign.

"He signed a non-compete clause with my company," LaFranca told us of Mullen.

Mullen says he's done nothing wrong and has had hundreds of signs either stolen or damaged after he stopped working for LaFranca.

"We didn't leave in the best of terms," Mullen said. "I made a lot of money in that company."

LaFranca denies wrongdoing.

"That's not you on video?" we asked LaFranca.

"Not that I know of," he responded.

Mullen says it's the ugly side of business during struggling housing market.

"I think it's a sign of the times," said Mullen.

The York County Sheriff's Office told NewsChannel 36 LaFranca wouldn't face jail time, but if found guilty he could end up paying a fine.


Original story by MARIO ROLDAN
NewsChannel 36 Posted: Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Do as I say and not as I do?

Everything from hot air balloon rides and hired painters, to health clubs and real estate opportunities were being advertised on the cardboard, paper and plastic signs. Some had specific dates that had passed long ago and other signs were for companies that no longer existed, according to Rose Ann Lafferty, zoning officer for the township.

More than 1,000 signs that had been littering the townships roadways were cleaned up last week. Mayor Matthew Lyons said they were violating township codes and he ordered they be removed. Lyons said the signs were violating a section of the township's code, which bans any portable signs in all zoning district, signs attached to public utility poles and trees, homemade signs "that are not professional in appearance," and signs that advertise businesses not located in the township.

"These signs were creating blight in the community," Lafferty said. "After the cleanup the response from residents has been fantastic."

Four township employees spent eight hours each taking down the signs from grassy areas and telephone polls, according to Jeff Moore, the township's director of technology and constituent services. He said this was just a cleanup, but "If there are repeat offenders noticed, there will be steps made to take action."

There has been a lot of these type of stories from many different townships over the last several months. It would appear that many towns and counties are cracking down farther on signage. I realize that this has been an issue for a while now but, despite the sign ordnance codes, signs have continued to be a necessary evil when it comes to promoting business. So I pose this question with the hope that you, the readers, can give me an answer that makes some sense:

Why is it that in an economy that is so obviously in need of all the help it can get, are townships pulling down and throwing away necessary advertising? Now wait... because this is a two part question. Why is it that other such signs used in advertising political figures are given a unanimous okay and allowed to clutter the landscape? Which signs do the most good here? The ones that promote a business or service and helps bring money into the economy... or the signs that promote a political figure that, once in office, will conveniently forget all the promises they made about strengthening that same economy? Hmmmmm... something to ponder. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that there should be limits to this sort of signage all around... otherwise our roadways would look like dumps. And I completely agree that this same signage should be professional in appearance and removed after a period of time. But you never hear of political figures being fined for leaving their signs out for six months after an election is over. Is this just another case of do as I say and not as I do? I don't have the answer to that question but I would hope that, in future, sign ordnance codes will allow for equality in advertising.


Original story By Jessica Beym.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Operation Clean Sweep!

Operation "Clean Sweep" (as I like to call it), was enacted on February 28, 2009, by Pete Constant and a group of volunteers partnered with code enforcement to sweep the neighborhoods of San Jose clean of signs.

"No signs are allowed on the city's property or on telephone poles regardless of the message," said Matthews, the code enforcement division manager. After fielding countless complaints about signs in his constituents' neighborhoods, one city councilman recently decided to take matters into his own hands. More than 80 students, parents and members of the surrounding neighborhood associations, scoured the streets to get rid of temporary signage such as "garage sale" signs, "open house" signs, "for sale" signs, etc. The group removed more than 300 signs.

This was the first organized sweep ever conducted by a public-private partnership in San Jose to address a community concern. Though volunteers had never been utilized in such an action, it is apparent that they were up to the task and willing to answer the call. This poses a question: How many more community partnerships might be called for in future? And where? With ordnance codes becoming stricter as time goes by, this author is left to wonder where companies will find themselves standing when it comes to affordable advertising. Though sign ordnances differ with each city, county or state, there has always been a way for wily businesses to skirt the edges and advertise their services and/or products with this type of cheap signage. I have to wonder if this type of community sweep will become a catchy thing for other neighborhoods. If so, I'm afraid that the average small businesses public exposure will become severely limited.


Original story: San Jose neighbors hit the streets in search of illegal signs
By Tiffany Carney
West San Jose Resident
Posted: 03/03/2009 06:15:34 PM PST

Monday, March 2, 2009

Neighborhoods oppose bright LED signs near homes

Some neighborhood activists are appalled by LED signs such as this outside ACE Hardware on Highway 100. Many council members, however, think that some places should be allowed to have the signs to get attention along busy streets.

Photo by: Josh Anderson/ For the Tennessean


The possibility that electronic signs will go up in residential areas of Nashville has neighborhood groups feeling anxious again, a year after a Metro Council proposal fell by the wayside. Though the council bill to let churches and schools put up light-emitting diode signs in residential zoning districts was deferred indefinitely last March, it inspired the creation of a task force to study sign issues and recommend changes. The task force, appointed last summer, is now close to finishing its work and submitting legislation to the council. Members of the panel, which will meet at least one more time, said much of their work has focused on LED signs, the kind used by some banks, chain drugstores, auto dealerships and other businesses.

while some folks like Councilman Charlie Tygard still believe churches and schools should be able to post the signs in certain situations, Trish Bolian, a member of the task force, is considerably against such a notion... as are many others.

"We could look like a neon Christmas tree overnight. Who needs to put a sign up that there's a PTA meeting Tuesday at 7?" she said. "There are other ways to communicate."

"An awful lot of citizens believe LED contributes to the so-called visual clutter we'd all like to minimize," said Allen, who lives in the Hillsboro-West End area.

While it is apparent that these signs can draw in passing motorists, it is even more so that such signs may begin to go the way of the Dodo in Nashville. It is still unclear as to what changes will go into effect, but the task force intends to find a way for the Metro Codes Administration to fully enforce compliance with the existing sign laws but Sonny West, Metro's zoning administrator, said it's difficult for the undermanned Codes staff to force business owners to obey the law at all times.


For more information on this story, please click here.

Sign Me Up!

Powered by Wufoo
The Power of Yard Signs is proudly powered by WordPress