<body> Public Ad Campaign: Can’t Rent Your Storefront? Make it an Illegal Billboard
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can’t Rent Your Storefront? Make it an Illegal Billboard

When new technologies come out and or become cheap enough to implement, the advertising industry often uses them to create new venues for advertising dissemination. It seems the large scale vinyl print has found its newest application as the economic crisis leaves storefronts abandoned and landlords without income. These locations are treated by the Department of buildings the same way billboards are treated and thus require permits. If permits are not obtained the signage is considered illegal and is subject to the same fines and violations associated will illegal billboards.

Recently I found a stop work order plastered on top of a large vinyl building wrap for Western Union on the corner of 22nd street. It seemed that with good reason, the DOB was treating the advertisement like a billboard. Because the premises had not obtained the correct permit from the DOB, the sign was in violation. I was sure similar ads cropping up around the city were illegal as well but needed to find another similar ad so I could look at the DOB website for permit information. Sure enough today I ran across this illegal Snickers building wrap which has no permits and is larger than most billboards even in Times Square. Here is my complaint #1251002

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Blogger Ian Aleksander Adams said...

what can one do about it? Just report it and hope they will fine them and it will come down?

Or do they even consider the fines as part of acceptable advertising costs?

Blogger Jordan Seiler said...

you can call it in directly to the sign enforcement unit which might help expedite the process. (I will do this when they open tomorrow) You can call the local city council and complain to your representatives. Or you can go rip the thing down in an act of civil disobedience that expresses your outrage and is the only way that this sign will actually be removed. Even once this is deemed illegal it will sit there continuing to advertise, albeit illegally.

Blogger GR said...

When they start hanging the signs on the insides of the window, there is NOTHING the NYC D.O.B. will be able to do as far as violations.

If you don't think these companies will do that next, you are dreaming.

And what will u do about it Jordan? Will you break their windows?

Blogger Jordan Seiler said...

Im not sure what I will do about it. Probably call the sign enforcement unit and local city council members. I think this new form of advertising could be curbed very quickly with the right approach. And I'm sorry to say the vinyl being on the inside of the window will not make it any more private and exempt from zoning restrictions and proper permiting

Blogger Ian Aleksander Adams said...

I am torn about this - I could see wanting to make a big ass banner for an upcoming art event and have it in the window of my gallery - and it seems like that would fall under the same permit/zoning requirements.

I feel a little weird saying that I don't want it legal just when it has to do with major products I don't care to see advertising for vs products/events/art I wish got more exposure.

I guess the private property argument could be used for huge illegal ads on rooftops or on the sides of cars too, both of which I know already are regulated. So it's not really the most compelling argument.

Blogger Jordan Seiler said...

provided the advertising sign in your window was for the gallery and not for some other random business who was paying your gallery to appropriate its space because they have the monetary means to do so, its okay. This is a very important distinction. If snickers operated out of that building they have every right to create signage and plaster their fronts with it. it is because the landlord is putting up whats called third party signage that makes this sign both obnoxious, and potentially illegal. different permits are required for third party signs.

Blogger Ian Aleksander Adams said...

That makes a bit more sense to me - especially because I could see it growing to take over entire areas of town. One building with a sign isn't a big deal, but blocks and blocks of them could be extremely mentally disruptive.

Blogger Andrew Fine said...

Just got the link to this article tonight from my friend Crappy, who writes the Queens Crap blog (yes, that's the real name, and if you haven't read it, you are missing out, prolific blogger: http://queenscrap.blogspot.com/).
My reaction (http://afinecompany.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-hope-this-is-not-trend-empty.html) was very similar, although I didn't lodge a complaint. IMO, it should be illegal, it is offensive and robs from the area. They ban neon signs, why not full-window outside advertizing?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@GR Especially

Should be noted the the Department of Buildings has now issued a violation for this very sign.

Have a look for yourself at the DOB Website.

Blogger Unknown said...

Ever since these ads started showing up on the corner of 13th and University, I've been dying to know: Can these landlords write-off the vacant space as a loss when they report their income? Can they still write it off if they cover the outside with ads?


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