City Cracks Down On "Bandit" Signs

As campaign season gets into full swing - more candidate signs are popping up in medians and on light poles. Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the city will start cracking down on so-called "bandit signs."

It's actually illegal to place a sign in the public right of way such as an esplanade, freeway overpass or along the curb.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the city spends $450,000 a year to pick up thousands of bandit signs and she's decided it's time to pass that bill along to the folks who put the signs there in the first place.

"This is about quality of life in our city. This is about visual pollution, and this is about someone trampling on the public right of way. And it is about tax dollars — $450,000 a year to deal with illegally placed signs."

The city issued a letter to political candidates and sign companies, warning them they have 24 hours to remove signs from public property. If the signs are still up after that, they'll issue a $200 citation.

Parker says she takes particular issue with signs placed on freeway overpasses — such as the ones that often show up on the Montrose bridge over 59. She also doesn't buy the argument that candidates don't know where their signs end up.

"I will tell you, having been a candidate a number of times in the City of Houston, the small yard signs — yeah you hand them out to eager volunteers and they can get carried away. Candidates and campaigns hoard the big signs. I'm sorry it just is inconceiveable to me that a campaign would not know where those signs are being placed. Most of those are contracted out to people to actually place those signs."

Parker didn't mention any names, but did say one candidate was a frequent offender. A number of media reports have highlighted the aggressive placement of signs for Eric Dick, who is running for City Council At Large Position Two.

And Parker admitted one of her own campaign signs from two years ago is high up on a telephone pole in Montrose. She's says her campaign is making arrangements to pull that sign down.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...