S.F. law took down 18 illegal signs in 2013; dozens still up

Mike koozmin/S.F. ExaminerRegulations in The City governing signage

Mike koozmin/S.F. ExaminerRegulations in The City governing signage

In The City’s decadelong war against illegal advertising — billboards and the like, to be specific — 2013 was not such a banner year.

Eighty-four signs were indeed removed this year, but only 18 by enforcement action. The rest — 66 — came down voluntarily or to make way for development, according to the Planning Department via its annual year-end tome.

That leaves 54 illegal signs awaiting removal, most whose owners have been in court to keep them up. The bulk of the remaining billboards across town — 818 — are legal.

The ban on most new advertising signage was passed in 2002 with Proposition G. The law required registration of all legal signs and that they display a registration number as well as the owner’s name. Violators of the rules could be fined $1,000 daily.

A census at the time counted about 1,500 signs citywide. For some years afterward, the Planning Department had trouble just keeping up with the new illegal signs going up, let alone monitoring the signs already in place.

But as of mid-2012, code enforcers had successfully removed a total of 733 illegal billboards throughout The City.

Nonetheless, the billboard industry has been tenacious; between February 2011 and March 2012, for instance, property owners slapped up 40 new illegal advertisements.

Aside from troubles enforcing the ban, The City faced 13 lawsuits, as of 2012, arguing Prop. G was illegal. But even the settlements of such lawsuits have been controversial.

Most recently, The City settled one lawsuit in 2012 and in the process got sued again.

That suit came from San Francisco Beautiful, a nonprofit group, who took the matter to court over what it said was a breach of The City’s ban.

The group argued that alleged breach came about in the settlement The City made with a billboard owner, which reduced fines for its illegal billboards and allowed the company to replace large, ostensibly illegal signs with multiple smaller ones.

That, argued San Francisco Beautiful, ended up increasing the number of signs around town, not reducing them.

jlamb@sfexaminer.comBay Area News

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Lowell High School is considered an academically elite public school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students denounce ‘rampant, unchecked racism’ at Lowell after slurs flood anti-racism lesson

A lesson on anti-racism at Lowell High School on Wednesday was bombarded… Continue reading

Most Read