City escalates crackdown on illegal roadside signs

Committee considers raising fines for snipe sign offenders


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is attempting to fight back against illegal snipe signs by hitting the sign owners in their wallets.

Snipe signs pop up along roads and light posts and advertise everything from buying your home to selling bedroom furniture. But it's illegal for them to be on rights of way, and signs on business properties require a permit. Sign wavers are exempt.

Many see the snipe signs as a form of blight.

The city paid cash last month for people to bring in illegal signs and about 7,000 signs were turned in.

Now, the City Council's committee on neighborhood blight will be considering a proposal to raise the fines for illegal sign offenders.

A current first offense carries a $50 fine, up to $350 for a fifth and subsequent offenses. The new fines would start at $125 for a first offense, then $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third and subsequent offense. The committee will meet in June to decide on the proposal.

"We hired two people who specifically go out and deal with snipe signs," said Karen Bowling of the mayor's office. "So they are writing citations and removing the signs. In addition to that, we looked at the hours they work and have shifted them to weekends, because typically you will see these signs go up on Friday."

The city is also starting to call the numbers listed on the signs to let the people know what they are doing is illegal.

"What we are referring to is a ROBO call," Bowling said. "So the code enforcement officer will get the phone number off the sign and they will be put in a rotation, if you will."

The city hopes the calls will tie up the line and get the message across as well.

The new fines have not been approved yet, but the city's crackdown appears to be working. Since October, 800 citations have been paid and 8,000 signs have been removed.

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