Fighting signs with signs

No stopping No Parking Loading Only Street Cleaning Permits Exempt Sundays and Holidays Exempt Anti-Gridlock Zone

Los Angelenos learn the meaning of these terms the way most people acquire knowledge, by paying tuition, albeit in the form of parking citations and fines. Those who say we in LA don't read have obviously never parallel parked on our streets, where we not only read, but debate the subtext and hidden meanings intended by the author. Is "stopping" the same as parking, or something permanent? Is "Flag Day" a holiday? What exactly qualifies as "loading?" And, can Hondas park wherever in Beverly HIlls, or is that particular privilege afforded only to late-model Jaguars and UPS vans?

Confusing as it can be, there's now one more lesson -- a sign that regulates unregulated signage -- the course materials for which have been posted at various locations throughout the city, most recently along Olympic Boulevard on the Westside [see inset].

Perhaps credit (or blame, depending upon your perspective) for this latest addition to LA's curbside Library of No ought to be assigned to those placard-loving real-estate agents, who plant their satin flags and signboards at street corners and freeway exit ramps Sunday after Sunday. Forever in pursuit of an edge, some enterprising souls a few years ago purchased mini-billboards mounted to stripped-down, steel-frame, stand-alone trailers, and began parking them sans vehicle as close as possible to corners at busy intersections.

"New Condos Now Open," they beckon. "Still Available."

I expect the application of these rolling platforms is not limited to real estate, so perhaps it's a bit unfair to give real estate agents all the credit for their proliferation, but, c'mon This is a profession that puts its face on business cards, bus side panels and bench backs. Only canines mark as much LA territory on any given day of the week.

In marketing, bigger is better, I guess. But, in the case of mini-billboards on unhitched trailers, bigger also seems susceptible to tipping in high winds. And, surprise, even when upright, these steely skeletons tend to snarl traffic on high-volume roadways like Olympic Boulevard through Century City and Westwood, where street parking is allowed on weekends, though about as advisable as doing so on any free-flowing Southland freeway.

Thus, the need for a law, and the associated posting of signs to curb the use of signs.

Nontheless, not to worry. When next you park and encounter this big, crossed-out "P" take a deep breath and relax. Unless you're dropping a trailer, this probably isn't going to get you ticketed. Then again, in a city where a "one-way plan" is actually a "two-way plan" that's got people crying "no way!" er maybe you should find out what the city considers an "unhitched trailer" before you risk it.

[For the motion and ordinance approved by the LA City Council in 2005 see this link.]

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