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Quick and Dirty

Stop Signs

By Daniel Haggerty | Posted 6/28/2006

The city's fight against illegally posted signs was taken to the streets June 24 when the Community Law Center held a "Take Down the Signs Day." The event was co-sponsored by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center. Spearheaded by Robert Strupp, the director of the Community Law Center's Project to End Predatory Real Estate Practices, the goal of the event was to combat the proliferation of we buy houses signs that are cluttering neighborhoods across the city.

Citywide sign-removal efforts have been aided by the recent passage of City Council Bill 05-0051, which goes into effect July 2. According to the bill, violators are subject to a $200 fine. Citizens who remove illegally posted signs from public or city-owned properties can designate a community charity of their choice to share in the proceeds the sign-war money brings in.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District), who introduced the bill, says she "has worked with these organizations in the past and supports their efforts 100 percent." Clarke says Take Down the Signs Day "is a good practice session" that constitutes a "citywide show of support for the new law." In addition, such efforts will allow the Community Law Center to begin singling out offenders and seeking payment of fines. The major roadblock, of course, will be enforcement of the law.

Joseph "Jody" Landers III, executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, emceed the sign-cutting event. Landers hopes the event will send a message to the culprits that this practice of blanketing the city with signs promoting predatory lending is illegal and won't be tolerated. Not to mention that it will draw some attention to the unsightly visual clutter the signs create in neighborhoods. "We don't want bottom feeders taking advantage of our citizens," Landers says.

Landers also notes that people who want to sell their houses are much better off selling them in the open market where they are much more likely to get fair value for their homes. He points out that there are other options for people facing financial crises than to sell houses. In fact, as Strupp stressed at the event, the Community Law Center encourages citizens to contact its representatives when facing financial difficulty so the organization can help them avoid foreclosure and hang onto their homes.

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