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Ever wonder what's the deal with all those posters and handbills that grace our fair city?
Well, did you know that these common annoyances--and seemingly endless assaults on our senses--violate local law and can expose offenders to substantial fines and penalties? Apparently, neither do many of the candidates running for public office. (Around this time of year, you can't help but get bombarded with their printed materials.)
In an effort to reduce this "litter," John J. Doherty, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, sent a letter to all local candidates reminding them to comply with the "Poster Law." (New York City Administrative Code sections 110-119 to 10-121) This local regulation prohibits the placement of "printed matter" on city-owned property and is quite expansive in scope.
"Printed matter," includes--but is not limited to--handbills, posters, notices, signs, advertisements, and stickers. While the term "city-owned property," encompasses everything from benches, bridges, bus stations, elevated train stations, hydrants, lampposts, parking meters, public pay telephones, to traffic cones.
Violators can end up walking away with more than just a slap on the wrist. The fine for the first violation can range from $75 to $150. Subsequent breaches will run from $150 to $250; with each posting comprising a separate and distinct violation of the law. So, in theory, 200 posters could expose a candidate to a maximum fine of about $50,000!
What is interesting about this ordinance, is that the person whose name, telephone number or other identifying information appears on the posting is presumed to be responsible for violating the law (and has the burden of proving otherwise).
While this law is a great way to reduce pollution, and certainly not a bad revenue generating device for the city, ultimately, it might prove cheaper--and a lot more effective--for candidates to take out newspaper ads or to air local TV commercials.
How's that for "political correctness?"
For a copy of Commissioner Doherty's letter to candidates, please click on the following link:
"Poster Law" letter