There has been a lot of discussion recently in Los Altos about it’s sign ordinance, part of which covers the placement of real estate open house signs. An article in the Los Altos Town Crier highlights some of the issues as does this editorial. There is even an editorial alleging that the biggest abuser of Los Altos’ sign ordinance is one of the committee members. Do we have a fox guarding the hen-house scenario?
The reality is that real estate agents are the biggest violators of the current sign ordinance. Most agents place a few signs directing consumers towards their open house. The signs are put up just before the open house and removed just after its completion. The problem is that many are placed in areas that aren’t allowed.
Although not addressed in the current ordinance , the number of signs allowed to be used by any agent needs to be addressed.
Several years ago there was a sole practitioner who became famous for his excessive use of open house signs. Whenever he had an open house, he would place signs on every major intersection in town to make it appear that his real estate company was doing more business than it actually was.
Unfortunately, this practice continues. There are a few mega violators who are frequently placing a dozen or more signs (or hiring people to place the signs for them) throughout town directing consumers all over town. The open house signs are illegally placed in the median, in the sidewalk right of way and are left out over night. The signs aren’t used to direct would-be home shoppers to an open house (three or four signs would do that) but rather they are used to promote the agent. They are used as a prospecting tool for the agent.
I suggest that the new sign ordinance limit the amount of open house signs to four. I also recommend that Los Altos adopt a policy similar to that of Los Gatos and Saratoga and allow only directional arrow signs. These signs do not have the name or contact information of the agent. The arrow signs direct home shoppers toward the open house, which reduces the need for the agent to illegally place up to 15 signs on the street.