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Let the city take down illegal signs

SO CAN RESIDENTS PULL DOWN ILLEGAL SIGNS? After a recent column explained city ordinance prohibits most signs in the public right of way, a few readers say they would like to limit the visual pollution.

By tearing it down.

Chuckmargie emails “with all the illegal signs on city property and right of ways, is it OK to pull them down? But only on city property and not private property. What’s the city’s position on this matter?”

To leave it to the professionals.


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Brennon Williams, code compliance manager of the city’s Planning Department, says “while most signs are not permitted to be located within the right-of-way – sidewalks, medians, traffic signal poles, etc. – and there are restrictions concerning the placement of signs on city-owned properties, we always recommend that people contact 311 for action on these types of issues. Depending upon the location of the sign in the right-of-way or on public property, the responsible department will respond and take the necessary steps to address the situation.”

That’s in part because it’s not safe to dodge high-speed traffic to get to a garage sale sign on a median. And also because the garage-sale holder might not appreciate the removal of his/her rock-filled, neon-paper covered box.

Williams says that while he “can certainly recognize how easy it would be to simply tear a handbill off of a traffic pole and resolve the problem … from past experience I also know that some business or sign owners can become very aggressive and hostile when city crews are out removing signs placed in the right of way even though the crew has the statutory authority to do so. Additionally it’s important to note that it’s possible for approval to be granted to place signs within the right of way. I’d hate to infer that city residents should be removing signs within the right-of-way and then have someone either take/damage a sign that’s specifically allowed or get hurt in some way while trying to remove a sign.”

So as tempting as it might be to take and trash that sign, he says “it’s always best to check with the city before someone decides to take matters into their own hands.”

WORKING WITH ZONING ON REMOVAL: That’s what Wallace E. Anderson says he’s been doing.

His email includes photos of utility poles at Montgomery and Wyoming covered with “advertising for soccer camps, flag football, the list goes on.”

He says he “will be contacting Zoning (officials) to get these taken down. … I was in Denver for 10 days and (saw) only three (of these) signs, of which (a) city worker got out of vehicle and removed in my presence. Definitely is a New Mexico thing. Not only a hazard but also an eyesore for the city.”

BOOTING COMPANIES MOVING NORTH FROM CENTRAL: Rich Glantz called to say booting isn’t just for the university and Downtown areas anymore.


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He says he was booted just off Interstate 25, at the Montaño Starbucks. He hits the coffee shop twice a week to pick up the day-old pastries to distribute to Noonday Ministries. He’s been doing it for several years, so when he came out recently and found a boot on his vehicle and a man demanding $75 in exact change to remove it, he was surprised to say the least.

Rich says after he complained to the manager of the McDonald’s (where he parked) as well as the owner, the signage was upgraded from one behind a tree to signs more in compliance with city ordinance.

Also disturbing – and illegal – was the fact the clerk had run out of receipts. Rich says he also demanded cash, refused to give change but offered locations of nearby ATMs.

“It’s a vicious, nasty business,” Rich says, “not good for tourism and not for making Albuquerque look good.”

And not very charitable. Now Rich calls ahead and has the Starbucks staff run the pastries out to his vehicle so he doesn’t have to park.

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Saturdays. Reach her at 823-3858;; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103; or go to to read previous columns and join in the conversation.