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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

New Law Cracks Down on Illegal Sign Posting

July 22, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

Gov. Pete Wilson signed a bill Tuesday aimed at deterring sign posting and aiding in the prosecution of those illegally posting signs.

The law, written by Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), allows prosecutors to introduce the sign's information into court.

As evidence, the information (such as name, address or telephone number) could be used to show the party responsible for illegally posting the sign. A jury could use the information to convict the defendant.

"Illegal sign posting threatens our quality of life in California," Hertzberg said. "I am doing all that I can to ensure that the government reinforces local activism."

The new law reestablishes a statewide illegal sign code that has not been used for 85 years, according to Hertzberg's office. The code makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, to post signs without permission of the governing agency.

Previous illegal sign laws were hard to enforce because violators almost always had be caught in the act or prosecutors had to find links that the party indicated on the sign authorized the posting.

Although the Los Angeles Municipal Code has a similar provision for signs, the state provision would help city prosecutors bring charges against violators, said Deputy City Atty. Don Cocek, who successfully prosecuted two illegal sign cases last year.

"It would simplify matters on getting the cases into court, rather as a violation of state law or municipal," Cocek said. "I haven't seen it yet, but if there are some presumptions built in, it would make it easier to get it before a judge."

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