The CypressShark was fortunate to attend the first class for the Bandit Sign Enforcement Program of Harris county. There were about 25 people in attendance. About 10 of the people were from various Homeowners associations or people with new interest. About 10-15 of us were the hard core Sharks. It was a two hour class with Ron Hickman Harris County Precinct 4 Constable leading the charge. Also present was Rachel Gallagher from the Harris County Attorney's Office. She worked with Ron Hickman's office to develop this program. She talked with the City of Austin people who developed their Sign Ranger program to get input for the program. There was one television cameraman along with a reporter from the Houston Chronicle present. State Representative Patricia Harless who was very instrumental in passing HB 412 and 413 was also present lending her support to the group.
It was a lively meeting with the Shark group adding information and asking questions. We received a card with a certificate with our name on it indicating we were certified as a trained volunteer for the Bandit Sign Enforcement Program. Our names will be submitted to the Commissioners Court for Approval (a formality) on March 4th. After that we are legal. We will also be able to get a laminated photo ID card with the Harris County logo on it identifying us as Volunteers. This training in Precinct 4 is good for all of Harris County. In fact they will freely train anyone who registers. The next class in March is full and a 3rd one is planned. One person who represents over 100 homeowners association asked if they could have a mass training for over 100+ members. It was indicated it could be worked out.
Apparently there are plans in the work for going after the plethora illegally placed post and panel signs on private property the builders are now adopting. No off site signs under the current law in Harris County.
A great day for those of us who have been fighting the battle for so long.
#1. "RE: Training Class Held In Harris County" In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations and welcome to the "official" club. It sounds like Harris County is getting serious about enforcement. Travis County still hasn't done anything. Could you please send a PM to me with the contact information for the people at Harris County that are responsible for the program and training? Thanks!
I am closing in on my 10,000th sign since becoming an "official" City of Austin Sign Ranger.
#2. "RE: Training Class Held In Harris County" In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations! Here in Austin I've found it useful to ID the most used private properties and use the county plat maps to ID the owners and contact them, ask if they have been asked by anyone for permission for placement of a sign on their property (political signs can be places with permission), and ask for their permission to police their properties and remove illegal signs. I have yet to find a landowner who wants any signs on his property or has even been contacted for approval. They happily give their permission to remove all illegal signs.
I have also found many properties I thought to be private were either city or county or state owned.
Where I have had some difficulty locating a phone number for a landowner, usually out of state, if it is commercial property with tenants, I call or go see them and ask if there's a local property manager (usually is) or how to contact the landowner. That has always provided me with a contact person who gives me permission to be their sign cop.
I wish we trained volunteers could issue citations. Trained citizen volunteers can issue citations for illegal parking in handicap parking spots. We could design bill language similar to that. This can be our next legislative initiative.
We also need to tweak the last legislature's HB412 and 413 to clearly include TX Dot along with these bill's counties' empowerment, since the TX Dot legal interpretation is that those bills don't specifically give TX Dot the authority to toss signs of under $25 value in the dumpster. This means that TX Dot has to continue to hold harvested signs, notify the violator in writing, give them 30 days to pick up their signs if they pay the invoice for removal, a real pain for TD Dot which inhibits them. Skip Austin