Signs and dollar signs

April 2, 2012
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Littered across the landscape of the 29th Ward, you can see large 5 feet by 5 feet signs urging you to take action, to make a choice on one day of the year. The sign is asking you to vote for the alderman. The concept is that this choice will lead to a better quality of life in your neighborhood.

There is one sign, less than 2 feet by 2 feet, that could encourage people to make a choice and take action 24-hours-a-day, all year long. The sign, which can be provided by the city, would say it’s unlawful to park on a residential street, bordering a commercial zone, for more than 30 minutes after business hours.

The police officers surveyed said a simple small sign like this is a useful tool in helping to maintain order and a decent quality of life for residents. When residents call 911 at 1 a.m. about the cars parked on the corner, selling alcohol out of their trunks, completing drug transactions or participating in prostitution, the police can clear the area with a simple parking ticket. There is no legitimate business transaction taking place at one o’clock in the morning.

We see signs of this type as having a clear, measurable impact on the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

The 29th Ward alderman:

• Received on May 11, 2011, a letter from a business owner expressing his support of the concept;
• Received on July 26, 2011, signed petitions from 57 registered voting residents asking for a sign on one corner, the corner of Madison and Mason;
• Received on Aug. 15, 2011, a letter asking for a status or a response on the request for a single sign on one corner, the corner of Madison and Mason.

Yet as of March 2012, we still don’t see the small sign on the corner of Madison and Mason.

It can’t be that the cost of the sign is a problem. The 29th Ward alderman, from the $1.3 million designated for improvements in the 29th Ward, under the alderman’s discretion, sent back unspent to the city nearly $163,000 last year. The cost of the sign could certainly have been covered by that much money.

Ald. Deborah Graham did not respond to AustinTalks’ requests for comments.

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