PEKIN - Pekin officials over the past several months have worked to beautify the city with programs like the downtown seating project and Spruce Up Pekin.
The next project is to clear the city of illegal signs on public right of way, said Pekin City Manager Tony Carson. The sign issue involves businesses and residents alike. The signs pop up on the weekends and people never take them down.
“To cite people and generate revenue -— this is not the focus of getting the signs out of the right of way,” said Carson. “It’s just the general look of the city, making sure they’re not junking up all of the intersections. It’s just not attractive.”
Pekin Police Chief John Dossey said no one has been cited for the illegal signs at this time, but if the issue continues, “Ultimately, you would have to if people don’t want to comply. We’re trying to work together with the community on this, so we’re going to ask for compliance.”
Carson said a particular group is a big problem.
“I would see the issue being more the companies that come in, not the individuals that are putting garage sale (signs) on the corner, even though we are taking all of them up,” said Carson. He said companies come in and plaster 40 to 50 signs along a road. One, for instance, says, “We buy houses.”
“About three or four weeks ago they just went up and down Broadway and Court Street at every intersection and I stopped and got a bunch and the chief had the department pick up a bunch of them,” said Carson. “That’s what (these companies) do.
“They know they can come out on a Friday night and code enforcement isn’t out. They never come pick them back up. They just stay there until the city has to go pick them up or they get rain damaged, disintegrate and even look worse. Those would be the instances (where fines could be issued) if they continue after we do call and tell them this is against city code.”
Code Enforcement Officer John Lebegue said that any space between the road and the sidewalk is typically the public right of way. In areas where there are no sidewalks, the public right of way extends 10 to 15 feet from the curb into the property.
“It varies all over the community,” said Labegue. “In some cases, it does (eat into a homeowner’s property). It really isn’t their property.
“They assume it’s their property, but in a lot of cases, especially on corners and stuff, the right of way will sometimes go in a little further. On the main roadways it’s generally right where that sidewalk ends. Along Court Street it is very narrow because Court Street has been narrowed over the years. But in residential areas you can get the situation where the right of way may be a little farther in. There’s no set pattern. Unfortunately, that’s just the way some neighborhoods are.”
Carson said the point is that people are putting signs on property that is clearly public right of way and not on their own property.
Dossey said there are different ways to advertise garage sales that don’t litter neighborhoods.
“There are apps now for estate sales, garage sales — people can get on those and advertise it,” said Dossey. “We’re a technology savvy world now, and many people utilize it.”
“Or, if you want to put a sign out, ask a person and put it in the appropriate place,” said Carson. “If they want to put signs up at intersections, they need to get permission from the people that own the property and place them on the property, not in the public right of way.”
Should the problem not improve and citations be required, the city code allows a $10 fine per sign.
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin