Fliers on utility poles are dangerous as well as ugly
THE Outdoor Circle and Hawaiian Electric Co. have some news for you: Utility poles are not bulletin boards.
Posting signs, fliers and announcements on utility poles is dangerous for utility line and repair workers. It is a visual blight that litters and degrades our neighborhoods. And it is illegal and subject to serious penalties.
Sure, utility poles seem like convenient places to tack up notices about raves, garage sales, lost pets or upcoming events. The space is free and easily seen by people on foot or in vehicles.
But City Ordinance 29.4.4 to 29.4.8 and Hawaii Revised Statutes 445-114 and 445-121 spell out penalties for individuals who post signs on poles and for organizations sponsoring advertised events or operating businesses being advertised.
Fines for posting signs on poles can be as high as $500 and/or 30 days in jail. Additionally, once perpetrators receive written notice of the violation, they could be subject to additional fines and community service time if they do not remove the signs within 72 hours after the date of the advertised event or after written notification of the violation, whichever comes first.
Fliers are cheap and easy to produce, and it's not hard to find people willing to spend a day with a staple gun. In a few hours, hundreds of fliers can be posted along the roadways in urban neighborhoods and in some of Oahu's most scenic communities.
THESE FLIERS create the kind of visual pollution that lowers the quality of life for Hawaii residents and the "Hawaii experience" for visitors. Violators are hard to catch in the act, but they leave unmistakable evidence behind.
Commercial fliers are not the only blight. Though they might seem harmless, signs for a baby luau, garage sale or lost pet are illegal and add to the visual pollution. As with event fliers, these often remain, frayed and fading, until rain and wind finally remove them months later. The result is as unattractive as discarded cans and fast-food wrappers. It's all litter, after all.
We see two kinds of violators. Some people innocently do not think these signs are a problem, and they might not know that posting them violates the law. Others know it is illegal but brush it off as inconsequential or a "local tradition." Event promoters will sometimes blame "kids" who posted the signs.
IN ANY case the beauty of our island home is tarnished.
In addition to visual blight, postings on utility poles threaten the safety of utility workers. Nails and staples used to attach signs to poles make it more difficult for linemen to use their climbing spikes, and they also can puncture insulated safety clothing, exposing linemen to serious injury, even electrocution.
This is a serious matter for Hawaiian Electric, which puts the safety of its linemen and women as a top priority.
"When protective rubber gloves or boots are punctured or torn, their safety value is reduced," said Jim Beavers, manager of HECO's safety and security department. "This is in addition to the regular cuts and scratches that are a hazard when climbing a pole scarred with staples, tacks and nails."
What can you do?
Inform anyone you see posting signs that it is illegal and could subject them to penalties. Consider calling the police to report organized violation of the law when you see it. In rural areas a call to the local police station might be more helpful. If a sign includes a phone number, call and tell whoever answers that their signs are illegal and should be removed.
IF POLES in your neighborhood have been papered with event or other notices, call HECO security at 543-7685 to report the problem. If you can do so safely, without confrontation or creating a dangerous situation, remove signs from poles when you see them.
If your club is looking for a service project, consider removing the nails and staples from poles in your neighborhood. Use heavy gloves and proper tools.
Finally, if you are a sign poster or an event organizer planning to pay others to post signs, beware: You are now on notice! The Outdoor Circle will encourage criminal prosecution of flagrant violators. Don't become famous for finding yourself in court over putting up an illegal sign.
Mary Steiner is president and CEO of the Outdoor Circle. Robbie Alm is senior vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co.