If you find a sign in a zoned municipality, there is a local zoning enforcement department. Call them.
In many cases, zoning officers don't enforce unless someone complains. All they need is a phone call.
Point out that a litterer has deliberately left litter on public property (as long as the sign is between the sidewalk and the street - the public easement - or posted on a pole, street sign, etc. You could mention that this is akin to you going into the city park and building a garage for your car, just on a smaller scale, since the sign is legally considered 'abandoned litter.'
Ask that they contact the owner of the sign and begin the process for a littering violation. If they can't be bothered, ask them when the next city council meeting is. Show up at the meeting and, BRIEFLY, ask them to have the zoning officers do their job in reducing blight and litter in your community by enforcing existing zoning laws. IF there is no local regulation regarding this, your City Council is the body that can begin the process to create that legislation.
It's important to point out that it is not the city's responsibility to remove the sign, but it is the responsibility of the zoning department to contact the litterer and have them remove their litter. This assures they won't be putting up any more signs (in your town, anyway), so you get a two-fer.
Typically, an actual litter prosecution process takes weeks or months. There's no value in having the zoning officer tell them that little detail. They can tell them the fine (usually, $250). All you're trying to do is get a guy with a badge to call them on the phone and tell them he'll prosecute if the litter is not picked up.
If you want to have some fun, call the litterbug the next day, play dumb and tell him you'll call the zoning department to have a littering order started if it's still there in 24 hours. Getting a pair of calls a day apart should catch his attention.
If your litterbug is using an 800- number to a national call center, ask for the operator's name (or ID number) and work address, then suggest you'll make sure they are included in the prosecution process -- they'll pass the message along. Ask for the litterbug's local number.
If you still have trouble, I like the idea of pulling up the signs and moving them, intact, to the front lawn of City Hall just before the City Council meets. If you're asked about it, don't lie; just offer to dispose of them properly, and request that they have the city zoning officer take care of these issues in the future.
#3. "Take spam to City Council meetings" In response to Reply # 2
Actually a number of years ago, the Dallas folks collected a bunch of illegal signs and took them to city council meetings. They kept the heat on and Dallas implemented the "end benefactor rule" where the company advertised on the sign is responsible, no matter who they paid to place the sign.
This is an excellent example of what you can do in your own city. Keep in mind that when you show up at a meeting, most cities give you 3 minutes to speak. Two people get 3+3 minutes, etc. And... most cities televise the meetings to people on local cable. And... the folks who watch the local government channel are concerned citizens.
#4. "RE: Take spam to City Council meetings" In response to Reply # 3
Being one that was directly involved in speaking at council meetings, here's what we did. We solicited the appearance of five to ten member sharks to attend the meetings and delegate their time to a primary speaker.
In TX we are allocated five minutes per person up to a thirty minute maximum, per group.
We spoke before several area council meetings but Dallas proper was not one. Dallas City council simply didn't want the seriousness of bandit signs on their plate, especially since we staged a bandit sign demonstration at one of the busiest intersections in one of the most affluent neighborhoods of the entire area.
We agreed to hold off from the council meetings and opted to meet with the Director of Code Enforcement and several of the top officials
When Dallas didn't do what they said they would, we turned up the heat and staged another very big rally at another busy intersection, both of which received major TV coverage of the entire area.
It didn't take long after that until we had the undivided attention of Dallas CE.
After the second rally which both received coverage from every major TV station in the Dallas area, we not only had the attention from Dallas but every metro area city of town.
#5. "RE: Take spam to City Council meetings" In response to Reply # 4
About 7-8 years ago in Denver, several of us sharks went public (anonymously). We got covered on prime-time news and in several papers. It worked! We drew a lot of attention to illegal signs and a lot more sharks got involved - mostly on their own near where they lived.
Metro Denver is much, much better than the litter haven it was back then. But CE is generally pretty lax and it takes a phone call or two to get them to do their job, especially with repeat offenders and repeat spam locations.
#6. "RE: Take spam to City Council meetings" In response to Reply # 4
Well GW, When was this happening in Dallas? It may well be time to do it again because I am seeing the main streets around North Dallas being covered several times a week by any of the large number of "wholesale real estate investors". I have been in conversation with at least 3 groups of them and they all laugh about CE's lack of involvement. I have talked with several CE's and they made me laugh too because all I get is "if we come across any repeat offenders,,,,". Of course, when 10 guys from the same office all have their signs with their own cell phone numbers those are not repeat offenders, to the CE's. It is a real problem and I wasn't involved back in the day (only a few years now) and it may need another push??? I called 311 and reported a new scam x6 intersections this morning with signs at least 12' up on utility poles offering that you too can drive a Ferrari for free, if you just give them your money. When it takes the CE's a week to respond they signers have already succeeded. I do enjoy the fact that I have cut up so many of their signs that they are forced to put them up out of most folks sight. Betty