By Tamas Mondovics
Snipe signs—as they are known by many—are the code violations seen by most Hillsborough County residents.
They are hard to miss, and for those that take the time to illegally litter the community by plastering the impromptu ads for garage sales, trash haulers, and house buyers; that’s the idea.
In an effort to manage the illegal snipe sign issue effectively, while working within its budget and resources, the Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Department is grateful for local volunteers who enlist to fight the blight.
“We appreciate the efforts of our volunteers as they certainly help our cause,” said Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Director Ron Spiller, while commenting on the assistance of a pair of code enforcement volunteers, Bill Staley and Jim Reed.
The dedicated duo of roadside warriors, who could be fishing or playing golf, have instead managed to pick up more than 50,000 “snipe’’ signs since they started in 2011.
According to County officials Staley and Reed began their community work in Brandon and Valrico after realizing their mutual dislike of the signs littering their neighborhood, not to mention the threat to motorists and residents as the signs become dangerous projectiles during a storm or during lawn care.
“These illegal signs are ugly and distracting,” Staley said. “That’s why we yank them from the ground and pull them off poles, fences and trees.”
Staley and Reed usually work on weekends, and while they do not keep to an assigned area, they mostly visit the same routes gathering a couple hundred signs per trip. The two keep track and record what they get on a spreadsheet.
Code Enforcement emphasizes safety so the volunteers wear reflective vests and badges, and use crosswalks.
“On a recent Saturday, I have counted 150 signs on just one corner at the intersection of US 301 and Big Bend Rd. in Riverview.
The County’s 30-plus Code Enforcement officers also remove the signs, and thanks to a new County law approved by the BOCC will be imposing a progressive fine on violators, which can reach up to $250.
“I’m glad there’s a volunteer program and we can help make the community look a whole lot better,” Bill said.
For more information about rules, regulations and fines in connection with snipe signs, please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.