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City wants help cracking down on “bandit” signs

The City of Fort Worth removes a sea of illegal of “bandit” signs every year from public streets — about 40,000 of them, to be exact — and code enforcers would like it to stop.

“The signs amount to nothing more than litter, blight and often times involve businesses with deceptive, fraudulent or misleading business practices,” said Brandon Bennett, city code compliance director, in an email. “The quicker the signs are removed, the less benefit there is to the illegal activity and the less pollution and blight for the City.”

All those signs advertising garage sales, lost puppies and home-based businesses are illegal if they’re along the right of way of public streets or on poles, he said. Only city-authorized signs, such as traffic control, hazards, warnings and directionals to tourist attractions, are allowed, Bennett said.

It costs the city about $75 to remove one or a cluster of signs, Bennett said.

If you are planning on putting up a sign, contact Planning and Development, Sign Inspection: 817-392-7848.

For each violation, a citation carrying fines of up to $500 can be issued, but issuing a citation can cost the city between $150 and $1,000 depending on the length of the investigation, Bennett said.

The use of 800 numbers, disposable phones and foreign shell companies makes enforcement difficult, he said.

If you want to report a sign violation, call the City Call Center at 817-392-1234.

The public also can help by not putting up illegal signs, picking up signs illegally placed on their property, picking up signs that have blown into the street and taking down signs taped or nailed to poles, Bennett said.

With no bandit sign enforcement program after budget cuts several years ago, two volunteers who are retired military colonels are the only ones dedicated to sign disposal, CBS DFW reported.

Signs can be placed on private property, subject to zoning and other restrictions.

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