Move it and lose it: critics fight sticky signs

By Lesley Grimm

It’s a war, of sorts, and one Community Board 11 believes the neighborhood can win. Local leaders want residents to wage battle against a seemingly boundless local enemy—that cheap moving guy. It’s not the service “he” provides, but the pesky way in which it is advertised that irks many. We’ve all seen the flyers, boasting inexpensive hourly rates, per man and per truck. The handbills are fixed, almost permanently, to utility poles and street lights with generous wads of super-sticky tape. They’re an eyesore, officials say, and they want them gone. “They do it so that you can’t remove it, and that’s a big problem,” complains Mafalda DiMango, a member of Community Board 11. “They’re everywhere.” The Department of Sanitation even ran a sting in the last two weeks of 2007. Sanitation removed a total of 498 “moving” handbills from various fixtures throughout the district and levied fines where possible, according Community Board 11 Assistant District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia. Posting any kind of sign or advertisement on public property is in fact a violation of city law. The Department of Sanitation “Digest of Codes” spells out the rules and warns of fines of $75 to $200 for first offenses and steeper tickets for subsequent crimes. Still, it seems the threat of penalties has done little to thwart the problem, and so Community Board 11 is trying new “battle tactics.” Elias-Pavia recently met with one of the moving companies who “pleaded ignorance” and agreed to remove all of their signs. That business and its posters have disappeared, but now a new company is flooding the neighborhood with advertisements. Community Board 11 Chairman Bill Guarinello said tracking down the companies responsible for posting the signs has proven difficult as some operate through a third-party “telephone room.” They dispatch calls to a legitimate moving company who is unaware of the illegal handbills. Guarinello believes the answer is simply ‘people power.’ At the February 13 board meeting, held at Holy Family Home at 1740 84th Street, Guarinello sent out a rallying call. “We’re not apathetic here in Bensonhurst, so let’s lead the rest of the city,” Guarinello said. He encouraged residents to tear down the flyers as soon as they noticed them. “Take pride in your own block. Rip them down as soon as you see them,” he said. “We should carry this out like missionaries.” Elias-Pavia, frustrated by previous attempts to quell the problem, jokingly suggested awarding a certificate to the board member or resident who brings in the most flyers each month. Guarinello equates the signs to graffiti. He said he believes his simple solution will prove the most effective in forcing “the moving guy” to move himself. “After a while, he’ll get the message and go away,” Guarinello said. “Together we can eradicate this.”

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