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Signs Point to Lax Enforcement

May 01, 1988

The story on April 10, "Signs of Revolt," might better be titled "Signs of Ineptitude."

We have all seen the profusion of real estate signs regularly affixed to poles in the public streets of the city of Los Angeles on Friday evenings, which in the main are removed on Sunday evening, by scofflaws who do not fear enforcement of the law. They ply their trade without fear of being annoyed by city officials reportedly incapable of prosecuting violations of the city sign ordinance unless able to apprehend perpetrators in the act of erecting the signs.

The city's Department of Public Works is charged by law with the duty to maintain our public streets free from private commercial exploitation. The city attorney's office is responsible to prosecute violations of the sign ordinance.

The city is subjected to this blight because those charged with enforcement of the sign ordinance choose to abandon the city's streets to these lawbreakers from 5:00 p.m. Friday to Monday morning. Moreover, these officials admit they are unable to prove who has committed the violations unless they catch them in the act.

Instead of wasting more than $160,000 per year removing the relatively small number of signs left up during the week--ignoring the fact that most signs are removed Sunday evening so that the perpetrators can re-erect the signs again the following Friday evening--those charged with enforcement should seek the revenue to be enjoyed by the imposition of fines for violation of the city's sign ordinance.

To discover the perpetrators, all these officials need do is read the signs. Assuredly, none of these signs have been erected or caused to be erected by anyone totally disinterested in the advertised sales. The city officials need simply go to the places as prominently directed by the signs and ask sales personnel there, "Who put those signs up?" I asked, and in most instances was promptly given the name and location of the company personnel or contractors engaged in the business of erecting the signs.

In any event, the city attorney has subpoena powers to discover those perpetrators who make a business of erecting the unlawful sings, even if the sales personnel fail to so disclose.

The signs are there either because these officials choose to neglect their duty to enforce the law, lack sufficient dedication to devote their weekends to doing their duty, because they lack sufficient resourcefulness to read the signs, or because they cannot read even the prominent print emblazoned on the face of the signs.

That our citizenry is reduced to the role of the vigilante to protect our neighborhoods from this blight evidences the ineptitude of those city officials charged with the duty of investigating and prosecuting violations of our city's ordinances.

Readers of The Times should direct their ire to the city attorney and to their city councilmen, stressing that if they choose to neglect their responsibilities to see to it that the city's ordinances are enforced, the voters of this city will provide far more time than weekends for them to devote to their leisure.

The signs which blight our city's public streets are not merely real estate signs, they are Signs of Ineptitude.


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