Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – Something many Arcatans probably consider part of their daily cultural life is the utility pole flyers advertising shows, events, causes, yard sales, anti-medical marijuana conspiracies, lost kittens or random abstract whimsy. But to others, they’re just ugly, and mostly wind up as litter.
The real problem is that flyers are usually not legal, according to state law.
California Penal Code section 556.1 states that, “It is unlawful for anyone to place signs advertising sales or items for sale on property other than their own without prior permission.”
Who cares? Apparently some Arcata residents do, according to APD Lt. Ryan Peterson.
“We’ve received complaints from the public, that they look terrible,” he said. Another problem is that few to no flyer-posters come back and remove the notices once the advertised event has taken place, so the flyers are blown off the poles by weather, end up on the ground as litter or flushed into the storm drains.
To abate the problem, APD is contacting event promoters by letter and via personal contacts, and having members of its Citizen Volunteer Patrol Program take them down.
That’s what CVPP member Lil Stodder was doing Friday afternoon. “It’s very tedious, but I enjoy it,” she said as she extracted staples from the pole at Seventh and H streets. “I get lost in it.”
Pete Ciotti, who promotes events for Jambalaya as well as his band, The Nucleus, is reluctantly complying. “I have heard about the crackdown and received letters from the city as well at the Jambalaya,” he said. “We have complied with the city and asked our promoters not to post on the poles, but I don’t think there is really any way the City is going to be able to stop this from happening. Besides the occasional littering that occurs on the streets I don’t see why this is that much of a big deal.”
While Arcata-based flyer-posters are generally cooperative, Peterson said Eureka clubs like the Red Fox Tavern and Nocturnum have been resistant to reform. “They don’t have a lot of buy-in,” he said.
He noted that many stores offer legal flyer-posting space and that there are also public bulletin boards available for them.
In the course of analyzing the flyers, APD has learned of events that weren’t properly permitted, having bypassed safety signoffs from the City, the Fire Department and APD.
Concluded Ciotti, “If everyone did their part to be a little neater and cleaner about it and picked up the flyers the next day it may make it less of a problem.”