Pierce County Council targets illegal road signs

They're unsightly, unsafe and unlawful, say Pierce County officials, and now the commercial signs that have sprung-up along unincorporated roadways...

They’re unsightly, unsafe and unlawful, say Pierce County officials, and now the commercial signs that have sprung-up along unincorporated roadways are officially unwelcome.

A four-month pilot program to remove unpermitted signs from utility poles and county right-of-way begins in mid-June, Public Works and Utilities staff told a County Council committee yesterday. The council included $40,000 for the program in its 2007 budget.

“These commercial signs are getting progressively larger, more distracting and harder to remove, and it’s created an arms race,” said Councilmember Roger Bush. “Working together, we can stop it before someone gets hurt.”

Bush said the signs pose a safety hazard to drivers and utility workers and are a visual blight on otherwise beautiful parts of the county. He also said they’re illegal under the county sign code, which bans all off-premises commercial signage.

In phase one of the pilot program, signs will be photographed and removed in a section of unincorporated Pierce County bordered by state Route 512 to the north, 224th Street East to the south, state Route 161 (Meridian) to the east and Fort Lewis to the west. Public Works road crews will focus their efforts on 112th Street East, Military Road South, 152nd Street East, Brookdale Road East, 160th Street East, 176th Street East, 224th Street East, Spanaway Loop Road South and Canyon Road East.

Signs that are removed in phase one will be catalogued in phase two, and owners will be contacted. In phase three, crews will conduct a second sign cleanup within the same area. Phase four will occur when repeat offenders are identified for further enforcement.

An assessment of the pilot program should take about four weeks and be finished by Oct. 1, so the County Council can determine whether or not to expand the program in the 2008 budget.

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