Council bill targets bandit signs stuck on poles

Posted: September 20, 2013

TIRED OF those pesky signs posted to utility poles offering to buy your home, junk and even your diabetic test strips?

Yesterday, Councilman Bobby Henon introduced a bill that would double the fine for posting bandit signs to $150.

Under the proposal, advertisers and the person posting the sign would be liable. The courts could impose a separate $1,000 fine for each illegal sign and up to $2,000 for subsequent offenses. Failure to pay the fines could result in the revocation of a business-privilege license.

The bill also allows for the sign to be removed by anyone.

"It gives the power of the people to take the signs down without any threat of retaliation," Henon said. "It empowers people to clear blight in their neighborhood."

Nearly a year and a half ago, the city launched a campaign to remove bandit signs that litter neighborhoods, and even went after some of the worst perpetrators, including 12 companies that have received fines. But officials say it's hard to catch the perpetrators because they often list numbers to disposable cellphones.

Thousands of signs have been removed since the campaign started, said Streets Department Commissioner David Perri.

Perri said the Nutter administration supports Henon's bill.

"[Bandit signs] are a form of blight stuck to a utility pole," Perri said. "They send a bad message that the neighborhood is uncared for and the company putting up those signs is disrespecting the neighborhood."

Meanwhile, Henon and Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. introduced a bill that would establish a new lease agreement between the city and SEPTA; the previous one expired in 2005. As part of the proposed agreement, the city would be able to collect 40 percent of any new revenue that SEPTA makes from property it leases from the city, such as spaces used to post advertisements.

All sides appear to be pleased with the proposed deal. Goode and SEPTA officials said it's not yet clear how much money the deal would bring to the city.

The original agreement was established in 1968. Goode has long pushed for the city to receive some of the money SEPTA makes from city property located within its infrastructure.

"There will be revenue sharing with a significant portion going to the city," Goode said, adding that the city is also turning over maintenance of the underground Center City concourse to SEPTA, which costs up to $4 million annually.

On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom


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