Irked by sign laws, Carson City Realtors dig in

House hunters could be driving in circles over the recent enforcement of the city's sign ordinance.

Realtors complain they'll lose customers on the way to hard-to-find properties. Recognizing this economic generator, the city planning office relaxed laws a year ago. But signs still popped up in outlawed places.

"They were placing signs in the right-of-way or on sidewalks, blocking handicapped access," said Walt Sullivan, Carson City community development director. "Two were allowed on corners, but they put up four or five."

Now if they don't walk the line, any signs located off the for-sale property are being plucked up by the code enforcement office.

"Enforcement has tightened up. We've had a couple calls from agents who are irritated," said Brad Bonkowski, president of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors.

Some agents are still placing their signs, hoping to evade the eyes of the city.

Today, DeLois Rose, the top agent with ERA Pioneer Properties in Carson City, will place five of her directional signs beside sidewalks and on medians leading to 4078 Westwood Drive. She'll place them 20 minutes before the open house and will remove them immediately after.

"With the market like it is, we need all the help we can get," she said Friday. "The sellers need help and they need exposure. This is a reasonable way to get the message out."

Laura Sperry, a residential specialist with Century 21 Heritage West, said she's using more mailers.

"You can get cited, and none of us want to get cited," she said.

The large signs can cost up to $50. Some Realtors decide they'll take the risk.

"I figured, I bought them, so what's the difference between me throwing them away or having the city take them and throw them away?" asked Realtor Mary Jo Brummer.

She said a few Re/Max Realty signs have been picked up by city code enforcement, but then returned to the offices.

Bonkowski said the restrictions are more of an irritation than a financial hardship. There are about 400 Realtors in Carson City.

"It will make it harder to find an open house, but I don't think we'll have a financial impact because, typically, open houses are advertised in the newspaper."

When the city loosened rules for real estate signs last spring, it went well - until July. That's when complaints started rolling in. It became sign warfare.

"I would entertain a proposal from Realtors if they want to come back and start talking," said Sullivan. "When they obeyed the rules the program worked."

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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