Street Signs

Department of Sanitation Warns of Diamond District Crackdown on Illegal Sidewalk Signs

Responding to multiple complaints about the recent mushrooming of sidewalk signs in the Diamond District, officials from the New York city Department of Sanitation have reached out to the Diamond District Partnership to inform us about a pending citywide crackdown on these signs.

The purpose of the Department of Sanitation crackdown is to address what they view as a dramatic increase in illegal, freestanding signs on sidewalks in the 47th Street Diamond District between 5th and 6th Avenues. Though Sanitation officials were not specific, the term they used was “focused enforcement.”

Officials we’ve spoken to consider these signs to be a source of blight and a cause for alarm due to the considerable danger they create. This danger applies specifically to the amount of space these signs occupy on already crowded sidewalks, which lead to pedestrian bottlenecks that “impede safe and efficient passage for thousands of pedestrians navigating New York City streets each day.”
It isn’t difficult to find examples of these signs. They are indeed a common feature across New York city and certainly within the Diamond District.

We respectfully bring this to the attention to all district merchants and property owners. Sidewalk signs are indeed illegal and we have every reason to believe that if needed, the Department of Sanitation will do what it can to enforce existing regulations.

Such enforcement might take the form of sign seizures or issuing penalties and fines. These penalties apply to merchants, who are easily identifiable by the contact information advertised on their signs. But a recent precedent would have us believe that that similar penalties could be levied on property owners as well.

During the most recent holiday season, several district property owners received steep fines from the Department of Traffic for stores on their property found in violation of an obscure noise ordinance that prohibits retail stores from playing music that can be heard on a public sidewalk. Those noise ordinance fines ran from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

We have every reason to believe that the Department of Sanitation will soon be out in force to ensure similar compliance and hope all those who run afoul of this city regulation will protect themselves and their wallets by doing the right thing.