Murray, Santino Stop Distracting ‘Surfboard’ Signs with 1st on LI Law, Prohibit Dangerous Eyesores that Litter Roadways and Walkways

Often flapping annoyingly in the wind along the side of the road, “surfboard” signs and banners (also known as feather or tear drop signs) that advertise businesses and services are not only eyesores for neighbors, but they also present distractions to drivers. While business owners station the signs to make their products or services stand out to drivers and pedestrians, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Senior Councilman Anthony J. Santino today announced the passage of a law that makes Hempstead Town the first township on Long Island to prohibit these signs, stopping them from littering roadways and walkways and preventing them from creating safety hazards for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Frequently stationed on sidewalks and intersections, the signs have been known to topple over into roadways and walkways, creating potential dangers for drivers and pedestrians. The signs, often made of fabric attached to long poles, are also distracting to drivers.

“These signs are an advertising gimmick that constitutes a distraction to motorists, a hazard to pedestrians, a nuisance for neighbors and a potential source of danger to all who come across their path,” Murray said. “What’s more, and on a personal note, they are making Long Island’s commercial roadways look like a giant garage sale.”

“This seedy form of advertising is not only an eyesore for our residents, but it is also a nuisance,” Santino said. “These unattractive signs are increasingly lining up on main roadways and are becoming obstacles for pedestrians and a distraction to drivers.”

Hempstead Town’s new law will go into effect on January 1, 2013 for existing signs that have permits, giving shopkeepers and others who utilize the signs time to comply with the new “quality of life” legislation. Signs without permits must be removed immediately. The law is similar to legislation put into effect in cities like Lincoln, Nebraska.  

In 2009, the Hempstead Town Board passed a law that prohibits “walking billboards,” commonly referred to as “sandwich signs.” The signs were affixed to people who stood or walked on public sidewalks. Similar to “feather signs,” these advertisements promoted all kinds of businesses, services and products while creating a dangerous distraction.

“Laws like these reflect our commitment to preserving the quality of life that we enjoy in the Town of Hempstead,” Murray said. “Protecting the safety of our residents and the beauty of our neighborhoods is a priority for us as elected officials.”