Woodhaven Residents' Block Association

Illegally Posted Signs

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association has worked hard to rid our neighborhood of signs and advertisements illegally posted on telephone poles, lampposts, and other public property.  These signs are eyesores and break the law.

Our efforts to combat illegal signs have received some attention:

  • Project Woodhaven, "Sign Warriors," by Ed Wendell, June 2010
  • Times Newsweekly, "WRBA Goes on a Huge 'Tear,'" by Ralph Mancini, 6/24/2010
  • Queens Tribune, "There Is Relief For Annoying Signs," by Domenick Rafter, 6/3/2010
  • The Forum, "Illegally Posted Signs, Noise Irk Woodhaven," by Eric Yun, 10/20/2011
  • Queens Chronicle, "Illegal signs prompt call for change in law," by Anna Gustafson, 12/1/2011
  • The Forum, "Dozens of Illegal Signs Removed," by Jean-Paul Salamanca, 12/1/2011
  • Times Newsweekly, "On A Mission To Stop Illegal Signs," by Robert Pozarycki, 12/1/2011
  • Times Newsweekly, "DSNY Should Let Residents Help Them Fight Litterbugs," by Alexander Blenkinsopp, 5/31/2012
  • The Forum, "Woodhaven Residents' Block Association Combats Noise and Graffiti," by Jeremiah Dobruck, 8/2/2012

Our message to elected officials about illegally posted signs

Our latest effort has been a message we sent to our Assemblyman Mike Miller and Council Member Eric Ulrich, urging changes to the law.  Our entire message is below.

From:  Woodhaven Residents' Block Association
Date:  Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Subject:  A longer-term solution to the problem of illegal signs
To:  Miller, Mike; Ulrich, Eric

Cc:  [...]

Dear Assemblyman Miller and Councilman Ulrich,

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association (WRBA) appreciates the event you held yesterday to call attention to the issue of illegally posted signs, especially in Woodhaven. As you know, this is a real problem on which the WRBA has focused for over a year (see coverage here and here).

Tearing down illegally posted signs is only a short-term solution, however, because new ones soon go up in their place. We would like to use this opportunity to encourage you to explore longer-term solutions to the problem. In particular, we believe it is a shortcoming that Department of Sanitation personnel -- rather than private citizens -- must observe the illegally posted signs in order for the offense to be prosecuted.

Every hour that an illegal sign remains posted provides an incentive for businesses to flout the law with their eyesore advertisements. The best way to combat the problem is to remove the signs as quickly as possible and to prosecute those responsible for them. Unfortunately, we have been informed by Mr. Iggy Terranova, community affairs officer at the Department of Sanitation, that if a private citizen removes an illegal sign (and private citizens, such as the WRBA, are often the best-situated to remove signs swiftly), the Department of Sanitation is unable to prosecute those responsible for the signs. According to Mr. Terranova, only a sworn statement by a trained officer of the law, such as a Department of Sanitation officer, would serve as adequate evidence in the proceedings against someone accused of illegally posting signs.

Though the relevant laws for illegal signs (NYC Administrative Code §10-119 and §10-121) are silent on the evidentiary adequacy of affidavits or testimony by private citizens, it is worth noting that another section of the New York City Administrative Code specifically states that sworn statements or testimony by private citizens might be useful in prosecuting illegal dumping (see NYC Administrative Code §16-119(f)). The WRBA believes that the Environmental Control Board and the Department of Sanitation should make any changes that would permit private citizens' sworn statements, testimony, and photographs to serve as useful evidence in prosecuting illegal posting, too. In addition, the WRBA welcomes any changes to New York State law (and in particular, New York Penal Law §145.30) that would facilitate such changes.

Please join the WRBA in pursuing these modifications. It is a win-win policy to allow citizens to remove illegal signs without invalidating any potential prosecution of the lawbreaking companies. It empowers citizens, relieves the Department of Sanitation of some of the burden of enforcement, diminishes the incentives companies have to break the law, and leaves intact the chance to pursue legal recourse against law-breakers.


Alexander J. Blenkinsopp
Second Vice President
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association