• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Snipe signs

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,377
Points
25
What is your city's take on snipe signs? We allow off-premise but prohibit snipe-style signs. Wish we prohibited off-premise outright.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
2,465
Points
34
What's a snipe sign?

Oh... illegal signs.... like this



Yeah, they're illegal here and if they get posted in my (corner lot) yard I toss them immediately. The only exception is if it's a one-time garage sale or realtor open house.

Someone is doing a "for sale by owner" type house sale in the neighborhood and they filled the hood with signs like the white one above- hand written- that says "we buy houses" and a phone number. I ended up driving through the neighborhood and grabbed all the ones I could find and pitched them. According to the city's web site, they say they're illegal and may be removed.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,483
Points
50
If they're on private property and on-premise signage, we tell them about our temp sign (free) permit process.

If they're in the public ROW, they are removed by City staff unilaterally and we keep them in the City vehicle (if there's room) for about a week. All unclaimed signs are then thrown out.

If they're on private residential property and aren't commercial speech, we leave them be.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,358
Points
50
We don't have enough people to enforce it so they're out there.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
12,540
Points
47
1581449838773.png

That was a haul after driving down one major street here. We pick them up in all right of ways. They are considered abandoned property since there was no permit or permission granted (& they're illegal too). We leave them in the rear dumpster enclosure if they want to pick them up (& they don't). My record haul one day was/is 76 signs.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,377
Points
25
If they're on private property and on-premise signage, we tell them about our temp sign (free) permit process.

If they're in the public ROW, they are removed by City staff unilaterally and we keep them in the City vehicle (if there's room) for about a week. All unclaimed signs are then thrown out.

If they're on private residential property and aren't commercial speech, we leave them be.
If you are not enforcing on private residential property, how does (not) regulating the sign based on content fly under the radar of Reed v. Town of Gilbert? Is there a magic wand us planners can wave?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,358
Points
50
Reed V Gilbert isn't 100% content neutral. You can still differentiate between commercial and non-commercial language like Mendelman is doing. I would just ban or severely limit commercial signs in residential zones. How you limit commercial is up to you, but the Gilbert problem was allowing freestanding church signs at size A, retail signs at size B, and so on. Just limit people to 1 sign for the whole development and you'll be okay.

On Mendelman's problem, you should amend your sign code because if you go to court over it and lose you get the fun of paying for all the legal fees.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dan

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
491
Points
20
We take anything in the ROW (call it litter, abandoned property,etc). On premise, we inform property owners or pursue enforcement if necessary. Off-site is outright prohibited. We have a Reed- inspired substitution clause in our ordinance. We are fully content neutral except for some allowances for off-site agricultural business signs- and in that case it's not us, it's state law and we just quote the law-basically pointing the finger at our Big Brother.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
491
Points
20
Sorry, this was actually in the zoning pre-Reed, so there must have been other case law that suggested a substitution clause was important to have.

Freedom of Speech. Federal courts have made it clear that signs are a legitimate medium for political expression. The owner of any sign which is otherwise allowed by these standards may substitute noncommercial copy in lieu of any other commercial or noncommercial copy. The purpose of this provision is to prevent any inadvertent favoring of commercial speech over non-commercial speech, or favoring of any particular noncommercial message over any other non-commercial message. This provision prevails over any more specific provision to the contrary.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
491
Points
20
And here's our overall prohibition on off-site signage, including the part where we are a bit in the weeds vis-a-vis Reed:

25.3.3 Are off-premises signs permitted? An off-premise sign is a sign that advertises a commercial enterprise or event that is placed on a parcel of land that is not the same parcel where the enterprise or event is located. Off-premises signs are generally prohibited, but there are three minor exceptions to this standard.

25.3.3.1 Directional Signs. Off-premises directional signs may be permitted where a special event is permitted under the provisions of the Special Events Ordinance as described in Appendix E.

25.3.3.2 Product Advertising. Product advertising signs are “off-premise” signs and, thus, prohibited. A limited exception for product advertising using temporary signs is provided by WDB 25.8.

25.3.3.3 Off-premise agricultural signs. Signs placed in in the ARZD, VZD and RZD advertising the sale of agricultural products in the ARZD, VZD and RZD.

While state law generally prohibits off-site signage, 24 V.S.A Section 494 (12) provides an exception as follows: Directional signs, subject to regulations adopted by the Federal Highway Administration, with a total surface area not to exceed six square feet providing directions to places of business offering for sale agricultural products harvested or produced on the premises where the sale is taking place, or to farmers' markets that are members of the Vermont farmers market association selling Vermont agricultural products. Signs advertising farms, farmstands, and farmer’s markets that are members of the Vermont farmers market association and that are located in the RZD, VZD and ARZD may be placed off-premise, only in the ARZD, VZD and RZD, under the following conditions:

 Only one off-premise agricultural sign may be placed on any one parcel of land.
 Off-premise agricultural signs may not exceed four feet in height
 Off-premise agricultural signs may not exceed six feet in area and may be doublesided.
 Off premise agricultural signs must not be permanently anchored to the ground
 Off premise agricultural signs may not be placed more than 10 days prior to the commencement of the sales activity they advertise and must be removed no more than 10 days following the cessation of such activity.
 Off premise agricultural signs must be set back a minimum of five feet from the edge of any public or private right-of-way.
 No permit is required for the placing of such signs


You can argue that under Thomas' interpretation in Reed, if you have to read the sign at all to now how to regulate, you are unconstitutionally regulating content, but the 9th Circuit at least has since affirmed that reading the sign to figure out it is off-site and subject to a blanket prohibition is OK.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,096
Points
71
If they're on private property and on-premise signage, we tell them about our temp sign (free) permit process.

If they're in the public ROW, they are removed by City staff unilaterally and we keep them in the City vehicle (if there's room) for about a week. All unclaimed signs are then thrown out.

If they're on private residential property and aren't commercial speech, we leave them be.
This.

View attachment 47925

That was a haul after driving down one major street here. We pick them up in all right of ways. They are considered abandoned property since there was no permit or permission granted (& they're illegal too). We leave them in the rear dumpster enclosure if they want to pick them up (& they don't). My record haul one day was/is 76 signs.
Wow, beat my all time one day record by 12! However, there was a time I pulled more yellow signs than white signs by a 2:1 margin.
Someone needs to start keeping stats here! Maybe sell packets of trading cards with our pictures on it along with bubble gum.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
12,540
Points
47
50 or so of that record day haul was some insurance call center offering "Obamacare" - when I left that morning to go to a meeting, there were none of these signs on the roads. On the way back to the office, the main road was covered - every intersection had 4 signs so I just started picking. I don't think they'd been out for more than a couple hours, if that.
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,564
Points
30
I recently completed another sign ordinance update building upon what i completed for my previous muni. It has some built exemptions but it is also content neutral. We don't allow commercial message snipe signs. Our enforcement begins in a few weeks. I can provide our sign ordinance update if you want the word text.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
491
Points
20
I had a record day of 74 when Franklin Graham came to town- that was about 70% of the day's haul.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,359
Points
67
Snipe signs aren't common in the community where I work. Code Enforcement is pretty diligent about removing the signs that do pop up.

In the core city in the region, coroplast snipe signs for handymen, MLM schemes, "we buy ugly houses", and the like are uncommon, and they don't stay up too long. The city won't touch political/opinion or community event coroplast signs in the ROW. (I'm sure a slew of signs for the "wrong" candidate would change their mind fast, if residents don't grab all of them first.) Old-school flyers, split fountain posters, and handmade signs are friggin' everywhere, even in vehicle-oriented areas where few pedestrians will see them. Lots of concert and music festival announcements (mostly folk/bluegrass/Americana), CD/poster and oriental carpet sales, runaways and missing persons, and lost pets. One owner of a lost dog has been putting up laminated signs for over two years. Like the political and community event signs in the ROW, the city has a "hands off" policy.

The area has a severe labor shortage, so no tradespeople or landscapers are hurting for work so much that they resort to snipe signs. Same thing with housing. For the few that put up signs, the general attitude among residents is "if they have to advertise so much, they must be awful at what they do". About half of the signs I've seen in the pile are primitive handmade signs from one cleaning lady.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
491
Points
20
Oh, I never touch political signs BTW- too much possibility of being accused of favoritism. I do a sweep two weeks after election day to grab any that candidates haven't picked up. Our local candidates that don't have much money are good at grabbing and reusing theirs.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,691
Points
24
On private property, a CEO in my last town tried to let the homeowner know that the sign was illegal and would need to be removed. The homeowner threw a hissy fit and it ended with the Police being called to the property. Over a sign.

In the ROW, anyone in the Department would stop and snag the signs but one CEO spent all her time on illegal signs and illegal dumping only.

My favorite was a "We Buy Houses" guy who we'd talked to for years about his signs and continued to ignore us and put them up EVERYWHERE! One day, he came into the Clerk's Office and filled out a FOIL request to find his new list of people to nag, I assume. Since Code Enforcement would also be filling the request, they asked the clerk to give them a shout when the guy came in to pick up his paperwork. Guy comes in, Clerk calls CE, BAM, 26 citations issued! (The Clerk was mad that we weren't very nice but, since we could have cited him with hundreds of violations, I felt it was fair.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dan
Top