A friend meeting me for lunch in La Jolla a couple of Sundays ago arrived at the restaurant obviously agitated. He slipped into the booth and threw back his head and groaned, “Ergh, I feel like I’ve
just been attacked by everybody’s agendas!”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Signs. Signs. They’re everywhere in this town. Signs for open houses. Signs for pizza slices. Signs for flowers and manicures and massages. Signs for car wash. Political signs. Signs for SALES. SALES. SALES. In other words, visual pollution, the contamination of the environment from human activities.”
“Oh that,” I laughed, handing him the wine list. “Welcome to a tough economy where everyone is just trying to survive.”
But he wouldn’t be soothed.“It’s not right. It’s not legal. It’s ugly and it’s disturbing because it’s clutter. Visiting La Jolla used to be a pleasurable and picturesque experience …”
On my drive home, I had to admit my friend had a point. Sure, there are more important things to fret about than street-sign clutter, but there is indeed an insidious and invasive increase of such in almost
every neighborhood in La Jolla (2012 elections notwithstanding).
The Lighthas broached this subject in editorials before. Perhaps it’s time to remind residents and businesses of the sign laws and violation consequences.
According to the San Diego Municipal Code (peruse the 40-plus pages of sign regulations at
It is unlawful to do the following:1) Place, post, paint or secure any sign, pennant, flag, banner,
balloon, or similar attention-seeking device on public property or
within the public right-of-way unless otherwise provided in the
Municipal Code or specific state statute;
2) Place any lettering, card, poster, or notice of any kind on any
curb, sidewalk, street, pole, post, utility box, hydrant, bridge,
tree, building, or other surface that is located on public property or
in the public right-of-way unless otherwise provided in the Municipal
Code or specific state statute;
3) Display any sign without the required Sign Permit Sticker; or
4) Erect any sign on any premises contrary to the provisions of this division.
(b) Violations of any provisions of this division shall be subject to
the enforcement provisions of Chapter 12, Article 1. Violations of
this division shall be treated as strict liability offenses regardless
of intent. —Effective 12-12-2001.
The Dunn Foundation, which concerns itself with the quality of the visual environment on a national basis, reports on its website that “visual pollution results in the homogenization of our communities and our loss of sense of place.” The foundation goes on to recommend that “A community’s appearance should express uniqueness while reflecting its history, present vitality and future potential. It should be coherent and vibrant, not cluttered with visual pollution.”
It’s been suggested, that if enough La Jollans stop by to complain to a business tainting the town with an illegal sign, those ugly, intrusive placards will come down quietly and without the need for official reports.
Maybe sending the offenders a copy of this column will work, too. I sure hope so.