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Post no bills — or else! Crackdown on illegal lamppost posters

Those responsible for hanging posters on lampposts along Avenues J and M and Ocean Parkway had better mend their ways. Lt. Lillian Tirado, from the city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) enforcement division, heard an earful at the recent Community Board 14 environmental committee meeting. “She [Tirado] was there as a result of complaints we were having – particularly on Avenues J and M for posters placed up on lampposts on Thursdays for religious events. They put up hundreds of them,” said CB 14 District Manager Doris Ortiz. Tirado explained that the posters – even if advertising a religious or non-profit entity -- are illegal. Even politicians are fined for putting them up during election season, she said. Tirado said this includes the larger glossy posters as well as smaller handbills and fliers advertising local shops such as nail salons and locksmiths. These advertisements are not allowed on any city or public property and DOS enforcement agents go throughout the city and take them down, she said. Tirado said that putting posters, handbills and fliers on someone else’s property is also illegal, although DOS enforcement agents are not authorized to take those down without the property owner’s permission. But agents can and do take down posters on city property with the idea of finding out the main culprit for putting them up and ticketing them, said Tirado. For example, Tirado said they may remove 150 posters, handbills or fliers from the same organization or business documenting the time, date and place of where the poster was found, such as on a lamppost, street sign or other city property. Then special investigators look into the culprits behind the posters and in some cases go into places of business and do sting operations to find out who the owners are, she said. Tirado said that of the 150 posters taken down, the DOS enforcement unit keeps about three to take to court and the investigation usually takes two or three months to find out who is getting the revenue from that poster. “After determining who was responsible, they [responsible party] will get summonses for each of the 150 posters at $75 per poster,” she said. Putting up fliers for missing pets and missing people is not illegal, she said. Tirado said in the case of synagogues and other religious institutions, the city tries to be more lenient. The city might just take everything down and inform the synagogue not to do it any more, but if they persist the city will take action, she said. Tirado acknowledged a proliferation of religious posters appears to be a problem in the area and her agency is always getting complaints about posters on Ocean Parkway between Avenue I and Avenue P. In regard to poster complaints along Avenue J and M, Tirado said if people tell her through the community board or by calling 311 of specific locations, the enforcement unit will monitor it.

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