In June 2018, Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet held its first “Illegal Signs Roundup,” in which 24 community groups across the city collected more than 8,000 bandit signs.

By Sue Ann Rybak

It’s hard to walk down any highly trafficked street and not see a sign saying “Cash for homes,”  “We buy homes” or posters that market deals for cars, shows, and beauty supplies plastered to a telephone pole or utility pole.

In Philadelphia, it’s illegal to post a bandit sign on a streetlight, utility pole, traffic sign, historical marker  or street tree. The penalty for posting these signs is $300 per sign for the first offense and up to $2,000 per sign for the second offense.

Thanks to a grant from East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) Community Fund of Philadelphia for $15,000 to Jumpstart Germantown, local residents should see more sustainable neighborhood revitalization without these nuisance signs. Jumpstart Germantown, founded by Mt. Airy developer Ken Weinstein, is a non-profit dedicated to revitalization efforts in Northwest Philadelphia through mentoring, networking and providing financial resources to local developers who want to make a positive impact in the community.

Weinstein said the grant will help cover two initiatives. The first initiative, which will cost roughly $4,500, is the removal of bandit signs in Mt.  Airy for the next year starting later this month.

“We are trying to send a message to both our Jumpstarters and other developers that it is not OK to post bandit signs illegally around the community that they are trying to improve,” he said. “It’s counterproductive to put them up because we are just going to take them down. They blight the community which we are trying to improve. As far as I know, East Mt. Airy will be the first bandit sign free zone for the next year. I don’t know if there is any other community that does it as diligently.”

The remaining $10,500 will be used for Jumpstart Germantown’s loan incentive program to do real estate  rehabbing projects in East Mt. Airy. The organization’s loan incentive program is open to anyone with a viable project in the EMAN area. Interested applicants do not have to complete a Jumpstart Training Program in order to be eligible for the organization’s loan incentive program.

Weinstein said by paying off the commitment fee of $1,500 of each of these seven loans, the organization hopes a developer will consider doing their next project in East Mt. Airy because it will cost less to finance the project. He added that there are many “opportunities available” for local developers and “now that opportunity is going to cost less.”

Margaret Salamon, chair of the EMAN Grants Committee, said grant winners represent the work East Mt. Airy Neighbors is committed to doing in the neighborhood and further the organization’s mission to “make a good community better.”

“EMAN board members prioritize giving grants to organizations that serve East Mt Airy residents and align with the Mt Airy 2025 plan,” she said. “In this case, Jumpstart Germantown is investing in the training and mentoring of local developers, primarily people of color and women residents. The local developers are renovating blighted properties and striving to keep affordable housing options in the neighborhood.”

For more information about Jumpstart Germantown, go to www.jumpstartgermantown.com or for more information about EMAN, go to www.eastmountairy.org.

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