More than 7,400 illegal signs were collected during the City’s second Illegal Signs Roundup in June. 13 community groups from across Philadelphia participated in organized efforts to take down the signs.
The City is paying the community groups $0.50 per sign up to $250 (or 500 signs) for removing the illegal signs posted in the right-of-way, often on utility poles or traffic signs. The groups will use these funds to purchase new supplies for cleaning and greening Philadelphia neighborhoods. The signs are often predatory in nature and offer to buy homes or vehicles for cash. The penalty for posting these signs is $300 per sign for the first offense and up to $2,000 per sign for the second offense.
“We were inspired that so many groups signed up again from last year and that new groups also joined this effort,” said Nic Esposito, director of the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet. “It was also reaffirming to see how groups from last year invested their money from the round up towards initiatives to further reduce litter in their neighborhoods, and the City is proud to once again fund these groups.”
To step-up enforcement efforts, the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet is working with the Department of Licenses and Inspections to investigate the root issue of the illegal signs problem, the companies that pay to have the signs posted. During the roundup, community groups took photos and kept track of where they removed signs and shared this information with the Cabinet to aid enforcement efforts.
The thicker plastic signs, which are made of a material called coroplast, are not recyclable. The signs collected through the Illegal Signs Roundup, however, will be re-purposed instead of being thrown away. The City will work with Trash Academy, a project of Mural Arts Philadelphia, and Tiny WPA to re-purpose the signs into play-disks. This will be part of an ongoing series of Trash Academy art projects that highlight the need to eliminate single-use plastics from the waste stream.
The City is also in discussions to create custom-designed, sanctioned advertising kiosks where signs can be legally posted in neighborhoods. Once the new kiosks are installed, there will be a zero tolerance enforcement policy for signs on utility poles and the public right of way for that specific area.
We will continue engage the groups that participated throughout the year in illegal signs removal and other community beautification efforts. We are always working with our partners to remove illegal signs and to enforce penalties for hanging them up with the goal of removing illegal signs from Philadelphia’s streets entirely.
A big thank you to the groups who participated this year for all of their dedicated efforts!
If your organization is interested in participating in future illegal signs removal events, please email us at CleanPHL@phila.gov and request to be added to our Bandit Signs Brigade contact list.