Illegal signs topic of special meeting
Last updated 2/7/2008 at Noon
A meeting held at the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce office January 23 discussed what can be done to combat the growth of illegally-posted signs in Fallbrook.
“The problem is the proliferation of signs in our community,” said Jerri Patchett of the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, who chaired the meeting. “We came together as a group to talk about educational projects that we might work together on to educate the community about the problem of illegal signs. There are many beautiful communities in our state that do not have this problem, and we want to be one of those.”
Patchett and Jedda Lorek of Keep Fallbrook Clean and Green worked together to organize the meeting.
“The goal, or I think one of the goals of the group, is to get rid of the notion that littering in Fallbrook is legal by commercial advertising by signs,” Lorek said. “Too many of them do think this is acceptable.”
Pete Swenson and Garry Evans of the county’s Department of Public Works were part of the meeting, as was San Diego Gas & Electric public affairs officer Juanita Hayes.
“These are the two entities responsible for illegal signs because illegal signs are often on SDG&E poles or on county right-of-way <areas>,” Patchett said.
Sheriff’s Department Fallbrook substation representatives Alex Dominguez and Theresa Adams-Hydar also attended the meeting.
Eileen Delaney and Anne Burdick, who are on the design review committee of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group, participated in the discussion.
Executive Director Bob Leonard represented the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce and citizens Kathleen Gerard and Steve Drew were also present.
The California Vehicle Code prohibits signs from being attached to any road or highway sign, and Patchett notes that illegal signs on road signs compromise safety as well as aesthetics.
“These signs are distracting, and often they impair an individual’s vision,” she said.
Nails from signs attached to utility poles are also a safety issue as they become a hazard to utility workers who climb those poles. Local ordinances prohibit signs from being attached to utility poles, posts, fences or other public property.
Patchett feels that many citizens don’t understand that posting such signs violates ordinances. “We still have ordinances against this, and we just need to make sure we get the word out about illegal signs,” she said. “The answer really is an educational campaign, and that’s what our intention is.”
Signs for garage sales may have been posted by individuals unaware of the ordinances. Illegal signs also include notices of professional services.
“They unfortunately seem to think that they’re free to advertise at the expense of the aesthetics of the community,” Lorek said. “There are legal ways to have a viable business without putting up signage all over the community.”
Political campaign signs in public right-of-way are covered by a specific county ordinance which requires an encroachment permit and a permit number on the sign. That ordinance also requires campaign signs to be taken down within a specific period of time following the election.
The fact that garage sale signs or commercial signs for sales covering a specific time are often not removed following those events augments the issue of the signs’ posting in the first place.
“Many of the people who put up these signs do not take them down,” Patchett said. “It’s a blight.”
The meeting was more for information than for specific activities. “It has not become an official program of the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance,” Patchett said. “It’s an unofficial group at this point.”
Patchett expects the group to evolve into something more official. “We’re just addressing the problem now,” she said. “We’re hoping to meet and put together a program that we will be able to unveil to the community.”
Lorek also noted the benefit of future meetings. “We do want to let the community know what’s going on,” she said. “Putting these signs up is illegal. It’s not the way to promote your business.”
Lorek noted that recourse to the County of San Diego is impacted by limited enforcement resources. “We don’t have a real strong code enforcement
here,” she said.
“This was just our first meeting, so it was exploring the issues and trying to decide how to go about putting together an educational campaign,” Patchett said.