These are tough times for real estate agents, who say some cities make it tougher than it has to be.
Real estate agent Ronald Shore is mounting a campaign -- both with signatures and on the Internet -- against a West Hollywood ordinance that he says limits the ability of prospective buyers to find homes for sale while driving on city streets.
Back in the real estate boom days in 2004, West Hollywood enacted limits in public areas, including street corners and near sidewalks, where real estate signs could be placed. Signage on private property was limited by size, as well as content. Thus, agents could advertise an open house but could not include information such as the name of the listing agent, their phone number or the real estate firm.
Mayor Jeffrey Prang says the rules were intended to reduce the number of open-house signs cluttering the curbs of West Hollywood and in some cases blocking access in public areas.
"There was a proliferation of signs in the public right of way. I remember before [the ordinance was enacted] there would be a half a dozen or more signs on busy intersections on weekends," Prang said. "There were so many signs it was laughable."
But Shore, a real estate agent for Keller Williams Sunset, said the rules have hampered agents and homeowners when they can least afford it. He is mounting a petition drive to overturn the ordinance and has started a Facebook page to recruit supporters.
Shore said the last straw came after he was fined $190 for placing two open house signs at either end of Norwich Drive, where he was showing a two-bedroom, two-bath house within walking distance of Urth Cafe and the Beverly Center. It cost him another $40 to get the signs back from the city.
"Let's not forget that West Hollywood is home to the Jumbotron billboard and the mega mural, and the city thinks that's OK," Shore said. "This is not a time to restrict real estate signs."
His effort was first reported at the blog Curbed L.A.
As it stands, the West Hollywood real estate sign ordinance is more restrictive than Los Angeles', which allows agents unfettered access to the curbside, though there are certain size limits.
It's not quite as onerous as in neighboring Beverly Hills, which requires a permit for all real estate signs and outlaws them "on any street right of way, public sidewalk, curb, curbstone" or other specified area without City Council approval.
Prang said he's not inflexible and would be willing to explore easing restrictions to deal with the economic fallout of the housing market. He also suggested that, in a densely populated city like West Hollywood, such a move should be temporary to prevent the hodgepodge of signs that led city officials to place limits in the first place.
Prang said the problem with permanently relaxing restrictions would be one of fairness, in terms of favoring one industry over others, and of access, in that it could restrict disabled people from public rights of way.