The Signs Are Everywhere


The Signs Are Everywhere

It’s been awhile since I mentioned it, but my city has been implementing stricter street-sweeping regulations for several years now. First, we got a notice that the schedule would be changed, then that it would be enforced by parking control officers, and then that “no parking for street sweeping” signs would be installed.

All of that policy-making is now in place, except that, in my immediate neighborhood, because the signs are new, parking enforcement is giving offenders warning notices, instead of tickets. This kindness will continue for an undisclosed amount of time.

About a month ago, I started noticing the “no parking” signs go up on nearby streets, and my denial of the situation came to a full stop. In months past, other people in the neighborhood had written letters and attended city council meetings, attempting to prevent the installation of parking signs, but the city was not amenable to concessions.

I dreaded the posting of signs, but knew it was an argument that residents would not win. I tried not to think about it and enjoyed the lag between the announcement of this part of the new regulations and its implementation.

I live in a cozy neighborhood within a huge metropolis. Part of the charm of my street is that it feels like a small town street, despite being 15 miles from the center of Los Angeles.

In our little space between the tentacles of the LA freeway system, people walk their dogs, kids play in the street, neighbors chat on porches, and gorgeous old magnolias sway in the breeze. But that ambiance takes a real hit from the ugliness of “no parking” signs. And not just during the day – because they glow in the dark.

I know the signs are meant to protect the city from those who say they shouldn’t have to pay for tickets because they didn’t know it was street-cleaning day. It’s also a step the city has to take to avoid being fined for non-compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System under its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit. Street sweeping helps prevent storm water from polluting local rivers and beaches.

But no one who lives in my neighborhood wanted “no parking” signs. They would rather remember on their own or get tickets.

I called my city’s public works office to find out if a sign would be installed in my front yard and, if so, to protest with vehemence. I might have to tolerate these signs all over my neighborhood, but I didn’t want one posted on the parkway right outside my kitchen window in my newly laid sod. My sense of entitlement as a homeowner and my outrage over the perceived agony of my first-world problems were in full effect.

When I spoke to the public works director, he was patient and understanding. He said no sign would be placed on my parkway because the two nearest my house, on my side of the street, would go on an existing light pole and a stop sign.

With that reassuring information, I fell back in to my comfortable state of denial. We are fortunate that our side of the street is also the one with light poles. Existing light poles and stop signs were used wherever possible. However, the other side of the street had no existing signs or poles, so sign posts were installed every 50 yards.

When the day came for the signs to be placed near my house, I watched the crew and eventually interrupted their work to confirm no other signs would be installed on my side of the street. They very politely said I’d have to direct all questions to the city.

One ventured further, saying they worked for an independent contractor hired by the city, because city employees were taking too much flak from
unhappy residents.

He said the city started on its own, but met with so many complaints that officials decided contractors would have an easier time saying, “Sorry, just following orders.”

We all remember trash day. It’s not too much to remember street-cleaning day. I know there are people who end up parking here without knowledge of street-cleaning schedules, but they are the least of my concerns, because they don’t live here.

The signs are not only visual clutter, but a psychological disruption, too. They don’t complement the colorful flowers or the swishy palm trees or the lush green lawns. They are ugly and unfriendly intruders in a place I like to think as safe, quiet and homey. They’re an “improvement” that does not add to my happiness or my property value.

I’m sure I’ll get over it, eventually.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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