County Board Regular Meeting - April 25, 2009 - Video
I start speaking at 02: 20
The Board comments start at: 18:25
My answers to some of the comments by the distinguished Board Members:
There are no county ordinances that prohibit citizens from removing litter from county property.
There are county ordinances that make littering illegal and all the signs shown to the board during my comment period are illegal.
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) considers illegal signs a "public and private nuisance" and wants them removed. They are looking for ways to work with the county and they encourage citizens to become Adopt a Highway (AAH) volunteers. As a member of AAH citizens may remove trash from the VDOT ROW.
Citizen volunteers in the Arlington County program to remove illegal signs would also be willing to adopt the highway with VDOT.resolving the question of "one foot to the east is VDOT ROW". Or they could participate in any of the many currently adopted areas.
Illegal sign installers not only bring cases against Arlington County residents but other areas are having the same problems:
This is just one byproduct of an area where the local government is unwilling or unable to enforce the existing sign laws. Illegal sign installers feel and act like they are above the law.
Training and accountability should not be a problem. The zoning code is clear as to what is and is not permitted. It is clear as to when and where signs are permitted. It is clear that there are penalties for illegal signs.
In the high tech world of Arlington County and the with the availability of inexpensive digital cameras there should be no difficulty keeping records of the illegal sign , from the first contact to the final result.
As emissaries of the county the training will stress non-confrontational behavior and the benefits of promoting your business in a legal manor and that there is a $100.00 fine per illegal sign. I am sure the illegal signs will also be recycled.
There is no First Amendment right to litter. Commercial speech is treated differently than private speech. One can put a sign on their property but that same sign can be illegal if placed on another's property or on public property.
people cleaning up signs and putting the signs in a trash truckDid you know that the City Code gives any person the right to remove illegal signs from the public right-of-way?
It is possible for someone to put up illegal signs and take the person who removed them to court, I should know. Every sign that was removed was illegal either because of its size, or location, or when it was put up. I had written and verbal permission from many business owners and residents to remove the illegal signs. Code enforcement was called many times, the web
Signs shall be permitted only on private property and not on public property or public easement area, unless specifically provided for by this section (Zoning Ordinance, Section 34, Nameplates, Signs, and other Displays or Devices to Direct, Identify, and Inform)
All signs, residential and commercial, are regulated by the Zoning Ordinance all require prior approval and most require permits. Always check with the Zoning Office before installing or placing a sign by calling 703 228 3883. Here are some of our most frequent complaints regarding sign violations. Violations of the sign ordinance are subject to immediate removal from public right of ways, monetary fines, and criminal prosecution in the General District Court.
Prohibited signs: Any moving sign or device to attract attention, whether or not any such device has written message content, of which all or any part moves by any means, including fluttering, rotating or otherwise moving devices, orset in motionby movement of the atmosphere includign, but not limited to, pennants, propellers, discs, banners, balloons, etc. (Zoning Ordinance, Section 34.C.1)
Unlighted directional real estate "for rent" or "sale" signs, provided that such real estate directional signs are displayed only from sundown of Friday to sundown on Sundays and on legal holidays. Not more than one (1) sign for each real estate agency shall be displayed in any one (1) street intersection but not on utility poles or trees, nor on or adjacent to any other public lands such as school sites, recreations fields, parks, parkways, and median strips.
Signs placed on public lands contrary to the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance are subject to immediate removal.
268 words, none of them hard to understand words like..Immediate removal.monetary fines and criminal prosecution. These are words illegal sign installer pay attention to and so should the County
A Post Script - trying to instill a sense of urgency
Last weekend after visiting my father I was leaving the neighborhood at Glebe and Rock Spring as I looked north on Glebe my line of vision was blocked by a sign placed on the traffic median. What you cannot see is behind the sign in the south bound lane were several cars. This sign was clearly illegal and dangerous. In the past I would have gotten out of my car and removed it, now I just pray an accident does not happen.
#1. "RE: Some answers for the County Board" In response to Reply # 0
That's an excellent presentation to the board, as seen on the video. The board was (17 minutes) serious about looking for a solution. They are talking about details trying to understand the law. Even with a county attorney present, they don't know the law.
They all agree it's complicated and may get more confusing.
And they May want to put sign information on the city website? What a concept!
A full report will be ready soon from the city attorney. That's Action! Bravo Robert!!!!!!!!!!! (Notice: The City Attorney was already assigned the project to get the information prepared; yet it was not available for this meeting.)
Every city in the USA does not have to try and re-invent the wheel. Look at Arlington or Austin Texas and there's a good "Role Model".