A push to enforce fines for posting illegal signs


In a city des­per­ately short on cash but prob­ably in need of a facelift, mem­bers of the Fox Chase Town Watch think they know how to spruce things up while gen­er­at­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

Sadly, nobody in City Hall seems to be listen­ing to them.

Since last sum­mer, a couple mem­bers of the group have been col­lect­ing what they un­der­stand to be il­leg­al signs from util­ity poles throughout their neigh­bor­hood and bey­ond. One mem­ber has even made a list of them.

Dur­ing the Jan. 12 Town Watch meet­ing, the group’s pres­id­ent, Steve Phil­lips, showed a tally sheet of some 1,100 signs re­moved from loc­al streets. Mostly, the plastic and card­board ads so­li­cit for people look­ing to sell their old houses and junk cars, or they pro­mote or­gan­iz­a­tions of­fer­ing work-at-home and weight-loss pro­grams.

Whatever the mes­sage, Phil­lips said, the bot­tom line is that people are not per­mit­ted to hang signs ar­bit­rar­ily without the ap­prov­al of the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions.

Leg­al signs will have an of­fi­cial L&I stick­er af­fixed to them. Those who post signs il­leg­ally are sub­ject to a fine of up to $300 per of­fense.

Prob­lem is, ac­cord­ing to City Con­trol­ler Alan Butkovitz — who spoke at the same meet­ing about his own in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to al­leged cor­rup­tion in the sher­iff’s of­fice — L&I doesn’t have the man­power to en­force the city’s own or­din­ances.

“They don’t have enough people to do what they’re sup­posed to be do­ing,” Butkovitz said.

In 2007, the con­trol­ler com­piled a re­port on the very same prob­lem. He ap­pealed to the news me­dia to pub­li­cize the is­sue in hope of af­fect­ing stricter laws and en­force­ment.

City Coun­cil sub­sequently raised the amount of the ap­plic­able fines. The prob­lem seemed to wane. Un­for­tu­nately, the re­lief only las­ted a year or two.

“It’s worth tak­ing an­oth­er shot and you’ll prob­ably get re­lief for a while, but it will hap­pen again,” Butkovitz said.

Sup­plied by the Town Watch with a list of of­fend­ers and their con­tact in­form­a­tion (via phone num­bers pos­ted on the signs), the con­trol­ler said he’d “get a group (in his of­fice) work­ing on this again.”

“It’s al­most a mat­ter of stay­ing power and per­sever­ance,” he said.

In Phil­lips’ opin­ion, neigh­bors can’t sit back and ig­nore it.

“If you don’t do any­thing about them, they’re just go­ing to keep load­ing up on the poles,” the Town Watch lead­er said.

In un­re­lated meet­ing activ­ity:

• Of­ficers of the Fox Chase Homeown­ers As­so­ci­ation re­por­ted that they had sent a let­ter to the city’s Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment op­pos­ing an ap­plic­a­tion by a loc­al coin deal­er for per­mits to buy and sell pre­cious metals.

Al­though Fox Chase Coin, at 326 Lo­ney St., is a long-es­tab­lished col­lect­ible coin deal­er­ship, neigh­bors are con­cerned that the pre­cious metals li­cense might at­tract un­desir­able busi­ness activ­ity to the shop, ac­cord­ing to FCHA zon­ing chair­man Craig Turn­er.

• Po­lice Of­ficers Rich Si­mon and Mark Mroz re­por­ted that res­id­en­tial burg­lar­ies con­tin­ue to be the pre­vail­ing crime prob­lem in Fox Chase.

Si­mon’s 7th dis­trict has seen 15 break-ins in a six-week span in the area between Pennypack Park and Rhawn Street. Mean­while, Mroz’s 2nd dis­trict had 21 burg­lar­ies in a 30-day span in the area between Rhawn Street and Tyson Av­en­ue.

• The next Fox Chase Homeown­ers As­so­ci­ation and Fox Chase Town Watch meet­ing will be on Wed­nes­day, March 14, at 7:30 p.m., at Amer­ic­an Le­gion Post 366, 7976 Ox­ford Ave. ••


You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus