ABC 7’s I-Team investigates WOW billboard

Wednesday night ABC 7 broadcast an I-Team report, “Sign of the Times,”  on illegal billboards throughout the City of Chicago, and Logan Square’s WOW billboard figured prominently in the piece, with neighborhood residents Bruce Anderson and Paddy Lauber offering perspectives.

the-wow-starts-nowGrace’s Furniture/Cheetah Gym Building
on Milwaukee Ave.*

You might not think of crime while looking at a billboard, but Chicago has long had a problem with advertisements going up without city authorization.

While some say they are an eyesore, they are also a missed opportunity for the city to collect big fees and fines.

In Chicago and most places, you have to have a permit to put up a billboard.

It was hard for the I-Team to imagine that something as big and as public as a billboard could be put up illegally.  But city officials say it is happening frequently.

Exactly two months ago, Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that increased the fine for erecting an illegal billboard to $10,000.

And apparently the WOW sign is — (no) surprise! — illegal (no kidding!).  The video shows an image of a $10,000 ticket for this very sign.

Chuck Goudie also noted that the city sometimes has difficultly tracking down which sign company illegally put up a sign, and that’s the case with this sign.  Maybe the city can do a forensic study of this photo (above) taken while the sign was being erected crime was being committed to identify the sign company offender.

According to the I-Team report, it is the sign companies that receive the tickets for illegal signs.  I must admit I’m not well-versed on the city’s sign ordinances.  I’m surprised if the building owners, who are also receiving revenue from the signs, are not also ticketed.

There is so much sign blight and illegal signage that I find it overwhelming and certainly not the first thing on my list of things to report to 311 (the city’s other help line).  Though admittedly a much slower process, in talking with the business and property owners along Milwaukee Avenue and through this blog I hope I can educate away some of the signs.

Finally, this particular sign I did not worry too much about because it is to be temporary as I previously reported in Change.

Perhaps even more temporary than they had intended.


*The Wow Starts Now photo by The Erice Cellphone Extravaganza on Flickr.


More at The WOW is gone.

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One Response to ABC 7’s I-Team investigates WOW billboard

  1. Bits says:

    Lynn, here in Grand Rapids (MI) we have begun a billboard inventory. I was planning to wait until summer, until a recent meeting with other local municipal officials, where we heard that billboards were being erected illegally. Fontunately, it’s not the huge problem that is is in Chicago, or LA, where there has been a grassroots movement to control the illegal proliferation of outdoor advertising (Ban Billboard Blight). I like the idea of the huge fees for illegal billboards. You need to know where all your signs are first, though, before you can start issuing fines.

    Did you know Sao Paolo, Brazil banned all billboards? They had an amazing transformation.

    Bits: The WOW sign is now down, but an inventory is a good idea.

    I’ve read a bit about L.A.’s troubles with billboards, particularly these large banner types; that advertisers/building owners are even putting them up over windows thus impeding fire safety on top of aesthetics.

    I had also heard about Sao Paulo’s ban, but will have to look for some before and after photos. ~ Lynn

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