Signs of the times

“During the period beginning 60 days before a primary election and ending 15 days after the general election…, the City will not relocate or remove a political sign in the public right-of-way…” — Chandler City Code Sec. 39-10.8

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Like everyone, there are some days that I look forward to more than others. As a child I couldn’t wait for Santa to arrive or for birthday parties that promised artfully wrapped presents and homemade chocolate- chip cake.
Now my favorite days are those where the temperature dips after a hot, sticky (did I mention long?) summer, or when the kids go back to school—toward the end of that long, hot summer.
But lately I’ve been looking forward to another day – and it can’t get here quickly enough.
This year my favorite day will be Nov. 21.
It’s not that Thanksgiving is just around the corner (though I will be thankful for that, too) nor that Christmas will come soon afterward. This year I’ll be celebrating the return of our street corners. Nov. 21, as it turns out, is the deadline for removing street-corner signs—mostly, in this case, those annoying product and services signs that have attached themselves to the legal ones like barnacles.
The joy I will feel has nothing to do with Red States vs. Blue States, Obama vs. Romney, or 1-Percenters vs. 99-Percenters. It has to do with my waning tolerance for eye-pollution.
Campaign signs have been appearing since the beginning of summer, at first just a few here and there. But then, like uninvited guests to a party, the business placards have popped up as if they were weeds taking advantage of yesterday’s monsoon. Some of the busier corners have them in abundance, sprawled as far as their companion political campaign signs will artfully mask their presence.
And, really, what value do they have? I mean, who chooses a roof repairman based on a tacky, faded street-corner sign placed among dozens of other tacky, faded street-corner signs? Should I consider the handyman (not a licensed contractor, according to the small print, mind you) who has the most signs to be the most qualified to fix my rain gutters?
It seems that low-budget business owners more than ever this year have been sliding their own signs in amongst the legit ones to advertise their pool service, or college hunks willing to move your belongings across town or—depending I suppose on their HQ (hunk-quotient?) —across the country.
To those pool caretakers, muscle-men-in-training and a host of other small-timers, it should be noted that their “rogue” signs—that is, the strictly commercial ones—are actually illegal because they are considered to be safety hazards and eyesores. City ordinances don’t allow people to post signs unless they are running for office or sponsoring a proposition.
As my new favorite day approaches, I’ll need to plan my celebration. Maybe I’ll make myself a construction-paper chain like the ones I created as a kid, tearing off a link each day as Nov. 21 approaches. And when it finally does arrive, I’ll clean up the scraps of that effort, happy in the knowledge that all those would-be entrepreneurs will be doing the same with my street corners, tidying up and erasing all “signs” that they were ever there.
For those that stand out as particular blots on my landscape, maybe some of the dial-a-hunks will still be around to help.



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