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Sometimes when things happen gradually it’s easier for us not to take notice. Take for example the new Target Store under construction at 65th and Broadway: A large chain-link security fence surrounds the perimeter of the work site, and a few enterprising folks have decided said fence would make for a good billboard. One after another signs were erected, tied to this fence. At first I hardly noticed. Illegal signs are all over the Sacramento Region, promising everything from Weight Loss Patches to Lower Mortgages to Baseball Signups, etc. Why should my neighborhood be any different? I guess it’s just harder for me to let things go.
Everyday I have a 10 mile each-way commute, through Interstate 50 to Downtown, Downtown 1-5 to Business 80, 80 to Norwood. I get a good scope with my eyes the state of local litter, weeds, and road disintegration. I can drive by the same piece of trash on the road for months, and I have to look at it each time. I know budgets are at all time lows. I understand simply maintaining our infrastructure leaves little funds for roadside clean-up. Still, it makes me feel helpless to watch as the city I’ve lived in my whole life disintegrates more and more everyday. It has been a slow process, one which you may not have noticed, but one that I can no longer ignore.
I can’t remove the weeds on the side of the freeway because it’s illegal for me to park in the emergency lane, let alone walk on the roadside. I can not clean up the litter in the gutters because I have a full time job, and no time to expel in what could be a fruit-less task. However, I can wake up early on a Saturday, hop in my truck, and take down all the illegally posted signs in my neighborhood. So that is exactly what I decided to do. I see city code enforcement trucks in my travels regularly, and I’ve had personal experience with city inspectors in the past. One thing I realized in my dealing with inspectors: They don’t seem to care unless a permit (money) or a fine (money) is involved. I don’t know what the fine for illegal posting of signs is in Sacramento, but I’ll guess that it’s less than housing permits. Perhaps this is why code enforcement officers drive by the flagrant code violations everyday and do not feel compelled to do anything about it. Well, my motivation is not money. My motivation is to overcome the feeling of helpless that plagues me as I watch my beloved city crumble before my eyes. If removing illegally posted signs elevates even a little bit of my dread, then it’s worthwhile to me. This is my city. This is your city. I will not simply drive by these violations and murmur: “Not my job to take em down.” If you put up an illegal sign in my neighborhood I will take it down. If you see one in your neighborhood, I challenge you to do the same.(Side note: I will not remove dated Yard Sale signs. People seem to do a good job taking those down after their sales are done, at least in my neighborhood.)
Xavier Ampersand is a 29 year resident of Sacramento, CA. Above are pictures of the signs removed 04-17-10, in the early hours of the morning.