Effort includes tougher law, awareness campaign and volunteers
The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved several measures to reduce the number of temporary signs placed illegally in public right-of-ways. Designed to combat “nuisance” and “illegal sign blight,” the measures include strengthening an illegal sign ordinance that will increase fine amounts for offenders found guilty of violating the ordinance. Other measures include launching a public education campaign and allowing volunteers to remove the temporary signs usually seen at major intersections and outside neighborhoods.
In 2011, City officials say nearly 10,000 temporary signs were removed from the public right-of-way.
The revised ordinance targets temporary signs on public right-of-way including those that direct attention to a business, a product, a yard sale, a service or a political campaign. Such signs are considered a nuisance subject to prosecution or penalty under the revised ordinance. Penalties range from $50 to $1,000 per violation. Additionally, the ordinance authorizes a volunteer sign removal program, which the City is developing through partnerships with neighborhood, business, civic and other groups wanting to reduce sign blight. The City will recruit, train, and assist volunteers.
“Removing illegally placed signage requires a significant amount of staff time,” said Donte Martin, the City’s Municipal Court Administrator and interim head of the Office of Central Inspection. “OCI staffing levels and workload limit the amount of time employees can commit to removing signs. This new approach will help reduce sign blight throughout the city.”
The public education campaign includes a video that can be found on Cable Channel 7, www.wichita.gov and the City’s social media sites. It can be viewed on YouTube. Also, OCI currently provides sign companies, realtors, and candidates running for public office a handout that details the appropriate placement for signage. Businesses and other organizations known to be in violation of the ordinance will soon be provided a similar handout and notified of violations via email and/or automated phone calls.