New volunteer program to help remove illegally posted advertisements

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COLUMBIA – Many of the advertising signs posted on utility poles or medians in Columbia are illegal. A new volunteer program called Sign Sweepers was created to address the problem.

Volunteers are asked to spend a few hours each month removing unlawful signs from the City’s right-of-way. All signs collected are thrown away in the dumpsters behind City Hall.

City of Columbia Volunteer Program Specialist Amber Olson said the signs pose a safety hazard.

“As a driver myself, I’ve noticed myself slowing down to try to see what’s on the sign,” Olson said.

Olson said the Sign Sweepers volunteer program was created for several reasons, including getting the community involved and maintaining Columbia's environment.  

“We started it because we want to help improve the appearance of our community,” Olson said. “And a great way to do that is to remove those unlawful signs.”

Olson said the owner of the violating sign will get a notice to remove the sign. If they are not removed, then they can face a fine.

Blue Note Street Team Promotional employee Krista Blomenkamp said the illegal signs take away from the natural beauty of downtown.

“They’re kind of distracting for sure,” Blomenkamp said. “It kind of takes away from the cleanliness and when it rains, the posters kind of get gross and torn down. I think it’s a good idea to keep things posted to kiosks.”

Olson said there are a couple ways to post signs legally including kiosks in the downtown area.

“It’s okay to post if it’s on your property or if you have a permit.”

People can visit the Columbia's Community Development service center to get a permit.

Blomenkamp said the volunteer program is a great way to educated everyone about where it is okay to post signs.

“I was completely unaware that it was illegal, but this program will help raise awareness.”

Olson said many of the signs are posted on city property or in the public’s right of way, which is against City Ordinance 23.

According to the ordinance, the purpose of the sign regulations are:

  • To allow the effective use of signs as a means of communication in the city
  • To maintain and enhance the city's ability to attract sources of economic development and growth
  • To improve pedestrian and traffic safety
  • To minimize possible adverse effects of signs on nearby property
  • To bring all signs into compliance with adopted regulations
  • To enable the fair and consistent enforcement of these sign regulations
  • To maintain and enhance the appearance of the community