Commissioner: Illegal signs appearing on Portland buildings

Commissioner: Illegal signs appearing on Portland buildings


by Randy Neves and

Posted on January 13, 2011 at 12:14 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 13 at 10:31 AM

PORTLAND -- Oversized, illegal billboard anarchy is spreading in Portland, according City Commissioner Randy Leonard and citizens who are complaining about it.

The city has clear rules about how large a sign can be.

Enforcement of those rules ended, though, when budget cuts and layoffs hit Leonard's Bureau of Development Services.

"We don't have anybody to enforce the sign code but I've been working to come up with a way to borrow an employee from another bureau," said Leonard.

Architect Peter Meijer  noticed the suspect ads while taking his family downtown for the holidays.

"All of a sudden, the signs were just front and center you could not miss them," he said.

His least favorite example, the new Timbers soccer advertisement wrapping around a designated historic building on SW Broadway.

"They just did not go through the legal process of getting it reviewed and that, out of them all, is the most troubling of it," he said.

Some large ad spaces are grandfathered in because they pre-date the creation of the city's sign rules.

But a pair of "fly-to-Hawaii" billboards on the City Liquidators building near the Morrison Street Bridge are questionable, said Leonard.

The building's owner insists they're grandfathered-in, but our recent NewsChannel 8 archive video may dispute that.

As for the old water tower on top of the building, recently made to look like a sunscreen bottle, Leonard says it might be cute and funny but it "might be kind of illegal."

A slew of ads along I-84 are under scrutiny, including a large banner stretched on the back of the Mountain Hardware building. The owner wouldn't comment.

Clearchannel Media tells us it's not fair that legitimate companies like theirs are suffering from this.

Leonard expects much support from that company and others when he starts issuing $500 per month penalties.

"We're going to fine them and we're looking at having the fines actually increased so they don't just roll signs in as a cost of doing business," said Leonard.