Fake No Parking Signs
Fake no parking signs crop up all over Houston: Illegal signs prove to be an effective scare tactic
After recent reports on the growing problem of fake "no parking" signs, the City of Houston is hoping to set the record straight about legitimate street parking.
We all know that a battered lawn chair along the curb isn't a legally-binding traffic deterrent. And that re-purposed election sign threatening to tow your car? At best, it can only scare away potential on-street parkers.
But store-brought signs at any Lowe's or Home Depot are looking pretty convincing these days . . . and they're being put to use all over town. As such, CultureMap reached out to Alvin Wright with the Public Works & Engineering Department to clear the air.
"You can only post a sign when it's on your own private property."
"People may put up these parking signs with the best intentions, but they need to know it's not legal," he says. "Taxpayers put out the money to make sure these public spaces are free for everyone to use. The rule is pretty simple — you can only post a sign when it's on your own private property."
While the public works department won't issue fines, he said the Houston Police Department can dole out tickets for upwards of $200 for to any rogue sign makers tampering with public street parking.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when you're looking to park along the street:
Metal (or sometimes cardboard)
Unless it's a temporary measure for a parade or street festival, the city sticks with good ol' fashioned aluminum for all its signage. When you see official City of Houston "no parking" signs made of cardboard, you'll typically find them strung to another piece of city property, like a parking meter or lamp post.
No utility poles
While telephone poles may be the domain of lost kitty posters and ads for indie bands, they're not used for traffic signs. Though on public land, wooden utility poles are not city property.
Find the sticker
Every official City of Houston sign will feature a three-inch square sticker covered in barcodes and warning against tampering with traffic control devices — a sure indicator that you're on public ground.
When in doubt, keep driving
Houston attorney and parking expert Rich Robbins warns of the legal strength of towing services on private property. His suggestion? If you're unsure whether a parking space is on city land, keep circling the block.