More than 8,000 illegal signs were collected during the City’s first Illegal Signs Roundup in June. 24 community groups from across the city participated in organized efforts to take down the signs.
“We were overwhelmed by the response to the Bandit Signs Brigade and are grateful to have so many groups participate,” said Nic Esposito, director of the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet. “These signs often end up as litter, and a littered community is bad for residents and bad for business,” he added.
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. Many of the signs, often predatory in nature, 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.
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 per sign to have them posted. During the roundup, community groups took photos and kept track of where they removed signs, sharing this information with the Cabinet to aid enforcement efforts.
Now that the signs are collected, instead of being thrown away, they will be re-purposed. In October, during Mural Arts Month, the City will work with Trash Academy, a project of Mural Arts Philadelphia, to re-purpose the signs into something useful. 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.
The Cabinet is hoping to make the Illegal Signs Roundup a yearly event and will continue to engage the groups that participated throughout the year in illegal signs removal and other community beautification efforts. A huge thanks goes out to the groups who participated 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.