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

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read