Illegal signs and posters on utility poles, public walls and trees have long been an eyesore in NYC. Many civic organizations’ volunteers have spent countless unpaid hours removing these posters so their neighborhoods can remain neat and clean-looking. A piece of proposed legislation by Speaker Christine Quinn and several other council members would destroy those efforts by rewarding those who prefer to remain unaware of existing laws that prohibit defacing public property. Speaker Quinn’s new law would in effect give small businesses and non-profit organizations free "get-out-of-jail" cards for their first violations. This is absolutely wrong. The various business and merchant organizations that support this legislation should instead attempt to educate their members that it is illegal to defile public property with their advertising.
It is difficult enough for the Department of Sanitation to enforce the existing law. There are enough loopholes that allow companies to skirt the law by using cell phones and bogus addresses, making it nearly impossible for them to be tracked. Why create new loopholes for them? That’s exactly what this legislation, if passed, will do. The number of illegal signs will greatly increase and make even more of a mess of our neighborhoods.
Rather than cater to a few business groups that should know better, the city council members should instead support the efforts of those small business that advertise legally, and not at the expense of our neighborhoods.
What's really surprising is this legislation's support by Council Member Peter Vallone, who had in the past prided himself on being one of the top "go-to" council members for anti-graffiti efforts. With the increase of signs that this law will bring, either he'll be busier, or he's already given up. I've called Vallone's office, his "legislative director" Jonathan was either never given the message, or he didn't want to bother calling me back.
I wonder what other politicians are supporting this behind the scenes. Could it be the ones that have already been hit with multiple fines for their campaign posters?
President, The Creedmoor Civic Association
Member, Citizens Against Graffiti Everywhere