Fighting Sign Pollution in Florida With Robocalls
By ROBBIE BROWN June 2, 2012
In Florida, they are as much a part of the landscape as palm trees and oceanfront hotels: plastic signs cluttering roadsides with messages like "We Buy Houses!" "Junk Cars!" and "Avoid Foreclosure!"
But now, worried about the impact on tourism and the state's natural beauty, some coastal communities have begun aggressive campaigns against the signs - by robocalling the advertisers' phone numbers.
"It's the only crime I know of where a person deliberately leaves their phone number behind," said Mayor Peter Bober of Hollywood, which uses computer software to call the phone numbers, up to 20 times per day, until offenders pay a $75 fine. "They want us to call. So let's call. And keep calling."
Think of it as fighting one nuisance with another. The advertisements, known as snipe signs, are illegal in many Florida communities on public property like highway medians or telephone poles. But they are also cheap to print and hard to eradicate.
After years of removing the signs by hand, officials in Hollywood, Oakland Park and St. Johns County recently turned to robocalling. Other cities say they are considering the option.
If you can't beat 'em, tax 'em.
Bill Horne Moderator