Sunday, September 16, 2012

City Won't Fine "Nuisance" Advertiser

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Update (September 16): An official with the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has confirmed that they have chosen not to fine the business, which is owned by a Garfield Ridge resident; but rather have spoken with him and cautioned him about nuisance advertising and claim that if he does it again, he will be fined.

I find that answer disappointing; but then again, I hope the warning did the trick and the business joins the ranks of those that advertise themselves responsibly.

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Update (September 8): When asked for an on-record comment on about this situation and the practice in general, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation wrote:

"The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation works to enforce the Municipal Code 10-8-270 through ticketing. In many cases, it can be difficult to issue citations as offenders are typically careful and omit personal identifiers, such as names or addresses, that would enable us to issue a ticket and/or have a conversation with them about their offense. In this instance, we have sent an email to the email address on the flyer notifying the offender of their violation of the code, and have asked for their compliance moving forward."

Additionally, we heard from Al Cacciottolo, the new 23rd Ward Streets and San Superintendent, who not surprisingly is pursuing this nuisance advertising situation with all appropriate vigor.

Well done, Streets and San. Stay on it...

Text of original post from September 4, 2012:

Technically a Crime, Mostly an Annoyance

In terms of crime and in the larger scheme of things, guys who walk up and down alleys taping advertising flyers to garages are just about at the bottom of the priority list. Same can be said for these guys when they tape flyers to the doors of local businesses.

Yet without a doubt, they are an annoyance. And local men and women---particularly homeowners---have complained about these guys with increasing frequency at Southwest Side meetings of civic groups, neighborhood watches and CAPS beats.

So, at the risk of sounding like a cranky old man, here goes.

Late morning last Sunday, I was driving near Archer and Sayre when I saw a man walking up Archer, taping advertising flyers to the doors of businesses.

I pulled over and got a look at a flyer. It was touting some new website that offers "free" classified ads (until July of 2013) to small businesses.

I'm not going to name the business, for three reasons. First, I have no idea who they are (despite the fact that their website claims that their company is "locally owned and operated by lifelong Chicagoans," no names are given). Second, the issue here is not this particular company, but the annoying practice of advertising by taping unwanted flyers to private property. Third, I don't want to give free publicity to a business engaged in nuisance advertising.

So anyway, I'm back in my car, watching this guy. I call out to him to let him know that what he's doing is against the law---and to knock it off. He looks wide-eyed and walks away, picking up the pace---but continues taping flyers.

OK, so now what? Well, based upon what I've heard from CPD at community meetings in recent months, I call 911 from my cell phone. I'm almost apologetic to the call-taker, because I know that even on a Sunday morning, there are a dozen more things that CPD could and should be doing. And I tell the call-taker that I'm doing what police have advised us to do. I give a description of the fellow, where he's at and in which direction he's walking. The call-taker says that police will be dispatched.

While waiting, I slowly follow this man up Archer, so I can point him out when police arrive.

Twenty-eight minutes later. No police.

The man finishes up and leaves. He has succeeded in taping unwanted advertising flyers to several dozen stores and offices between Narragansett and Neva. Mostly glass doors, but also painted surfaces that include the decorative iron fence outside Dr. Gary Rubin's office, the varnished wooden door at Pepe's, and so forth.

Maybe, as the son of a small-business owner who struggled to keep his store neat and clean for his customers, I'm a little more sensitive to the issue of defacement; but I see those unwanted flyers and wonder if the tape used will in any way mar those surfaces when the flyers are removed.

The Municipal Code of Chicago (10-8-270  "Distribution of commercial advertising matter") is mostly clear that posting advertising flyers in both public places and on private property is against the law; fines for violations range from $200 to $1,000 per offense.

So for what it's worth, I am following up with City Hall to find out which, if any, city department enforces these laws; and what their response is to this. Will let you know when I do.

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  1. Great article and thank you for posting. My mom has a stack of these waste of paper in her garage from just the past 2 months. Just Sunday night I pulled another off her garage & the neighbor's. This is ridiculous & needs to be handled. Yes, I know the police department is very busy more so in our neighborhood than they will admit; the knowledge of who would be the enforcer of this type of situation would be beneficial & greatly appreciated. Thank you again.

  2. I have called the police for different things and they usually don't show up unless shots are fired or there is a burgulary in progress...the neighborhood watch chairman always says call 911, but they never come.

  3. What a waste of time to even write about this.
    Yes, it is annoying but small businesses and these laborers are only trying to work and make a few bucks. STOP being a tattle tale and complaining about nonsense. The police have their hands full especially in our neighborhood with much
    Bigger problems. That tape they use is cheap painters tape that does no harm to any surface.
    Again, whiile, I agree it is annoying, who gives a crap?
    If its taped to your door, garage or whatever and you do not want there services SIMPLY throw it in the garbage as I do.... Come on people, life is to short to worry about such insignificant things!

    1. Wrong. I believe these flyers send a red flag to the scumbags who troll up and down the alleys looking for a garage/home to break in to. Garages that have several of them taped on signals either a vunerable senior citizen who can't get out to the alley EVERY DAY to remove them, or a family out of town on vacation. Let's see how insignificant you think it is when you or a neighbor is robbed.

  4. In the future when you call the police you should call in a suspiscious person. This takes your job from a low priority to a high 1a priority job. Tell the 911 calltaker he is looking into windows if businesses (which he is) in an area where here have been recent robberies (elf patron). You can also say he us defacing the businesses posting advertisement. Even though it appears he is only doing that he could be casing businesses looking for their slow times, amount of people present, etc. When the police arrive just explain the mcc code.
    --beat 811, 3rd watch

  5. Two points: first, i find the big construction business sign posted on the chainlink fence at central and 51st to be much more of a property devaluing problem. Can you imagine homeowners in a suburban subdivision ever allowing such an eyesre?
    Second, while postit flyers in and of themselves are a petty annoyance, Barney Fife reminds us to ”nip it! Nip it in the bud!”

  6. Can we have a thought that the flyers are a small community business just trying to drum up business from this wonderful neighborhood we live in? Or maybe the business is just starting out and can't afford to use our super expensive mail system? It could be about creating jobs, making a living and helping others...just a thought.

  7. OMG the things people complain about....