Bad Idea Jeans: A Proposal to Legalize Bandit Signs

On January 26th, Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced Bill 120017, which would legalize and regulate bandit signs. For the uninitiated, here are some examples of bandit signs, captured over the course of three minutes in Point Breeze:

A bunch
That Dave guy sounds like a winner
Something different

As anyone can see, these signs provide no value to neighbors, and have a blighting influence, to boot. And that’s assuming that they don’t eventually fall off the poles and turn into street litter.

So… why in the world would these local officials introduce this piece of legislation that’s currently waiting to be considered by the L&I Committee? Wildly speculating, we can think of two possible reasons.

1) They believe it will raise money for the city. The proposal requires companies that hang bandit signs to purchase stamps for these signs for $1 per sign, and Jones and Blackwell believe that companies will follow the rules, pay the fee, and the city coffers will bulge.

2) They’re doing a personal or political favor for newly elected Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who challenged that constitutionality of Philadelphia Code 10-1202, which bans bandit signs. This case went all the way to the Federal courts, and Johnson lost every time.

According to the Bandit Project, a “city-wide coalition of community organizations and concerned individuals committed to the eradication of the blight of illegal signage in Philadelphia,” there are about 20,000 illegal bandit signs hanging in the city at any time. And according to a recent Daily News editorial, the city wrote $75 tickets for eight (!) signs in 2010. Whaaaat?!?

Respectfully, yo City Council! Maybe instead of getting rid of an ordinance that ostensibly reduces blight, maybe you might just wanna enforce the law that’s currently on the books? What do you say, let’s fight blight AND make money for the city, too!

Ok, we’re just one voice, so good readers, we ask you this favor: If you think that this proposed ordinance is bunk, call/email/fax/carrier pigeon your local Councilperson today!

Especially if your councilman is Kenyatta Johnson. Because he probably needs some convincing.

Looking for some talking/writing points? Click here.