New bandit sign enforcement strategy will enlist community’s help


Though they are illegal, Philadelphia has at least 20,000 bandit signs, according to anti-blight coalition The Bandit Project. The cheap corrugated plastic posters affixed to utility poles and streetlights generally advertise a predatory service and can be seen at the majority of busy city intersections.

The phone number associated with merely one sign spotted in Northeast Philadelphia offering cash for “junk cars” appears 150 times in The Bandit Project’s user-generated database of offenders. A man who answered the phone declined to comment.

Brian Abernathy of the Managing Director’s Office said that “not many” of the perpetrators were fined the applicable $75-per-sign fee last year due to a lack of manpower within both agencies responsible for the citations’ enforcement: L&I and the Streets Department.

But Abernathy and other officials from Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration are looking to change that this spring by targeting both the signs and those who put them up as part of a new enforcement strategy.

Starting in April, L&I and cleanup workers who visit a location will also conduct “sign sweeps” of the surrounding block. Residents will be able to send in signs and identifying information to a single point of contact, rather than dealing with circuitous phone calls to L&I and the Streets Department. “We will ask for their help because we realize we don’t have the resources to do it ourselves,” Abernathy said. “But that won’t work unless we have enforcement behind them.”

Inspired by L&I’s initiative dealing with absentee landlords
without active addresses on file, the city will also partner with an
independent firm to fund a team of interns that will attempt to track
down the sign posters, Abernathy said. He expects to
reveal the partner in a more comprehensive announcement next month.   

Residents say they are pleased to hear about the efforts. “We’ve been advocating for enforcement of the existing laws quite for some time now. I’m a firm believer that’s the correct strategy,” Henry Pyatt of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation said.

Currently, bandit signs in the neighborhood’s commercial corridor are removed by two sanitation workers armed with floor tile scrapers and funded by a Department of Commerce grant, Pyatt said.

“I can tell you these signs proliferate very rapidly – it tends to happen all at once overnight in a neighborhood. One or two guys get hired for $80 to $100 a day and march around stapling signs to poles,” he said. “These signs really make a neighborhood look like crap, and when a neighborhood looks like crap, it gets treated like crap.”


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.