Illegal Signs in Public Right of Way
Updated 7 November 2005

Illegal Signs in Public Right of Way

by Bill Meredith

The simple fact is that our laws state that it is illegal to place signs in the public right-of-way or attach them to utility or traffic sign poles. Legal signs are those placed on private property with the consent of the property owner, in accordance with laws that regulate them.

Illegal signs are an eyesore, scenic pollution, a safety hazard, and a violation of State Law and Austin City Code. Counties use the State law. You can find the State Transportation Code Chapter 393 at: You can find the City code Chapter 25-10 at: and under Select a Service, select Code of Ordinances, Chapter I & II, Frames, and expand Title 25, then select Chapter 25-10. Section 25-10-103 contains the most salient sign laws.

Illegal signs are subject to confiscation and violators (those who place them, the beneficiary of the sign, and those who authorize their placement) can face fines of up to $200 per sign per day.

The delineation of the public right-of-way (ROW) is not always clear. It not only includes our roads and highways and all medians, but also includes adjacent land on either side of the road or highway for traffic-related signs and utility access. Sometimes the width of this adjacent land is narrow and close to the roadway, or it can be quite wide as it is along 2222 and 360. A good rule of thumb is to observe the line of utility poles, first driveway expansion joint cuts, or fencing at property boundaries to determine where the ROW ends.

In newer residential areas, the ROW typically extends 10 feet from the curb. So, residence for-sale signs should be at least 10 feet from the curb. Only one for-sale sign per lot is allowed.

ROW cannot be used for signs of any kind, at any time, other than those put out for official use by the City, County or State.

The one exception to the prohibition on any signs in the ROW is for events that will use the roadways and impact traffic flow. Sponsors pay a permit fee, put signs along the route during a specified time window, and face stiff penalties if signs are not removed right after the event. An example would be Capitol 10K signs along streets where people run.

In order to be trained and certified by the City of Austin to remove illegal signs from public rights-of-way, citizen may become official Sign Rangers by taking a short class. Sign Ranger training and certification is a part of the City's Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program with the Austin Police Department. For information on this opportunity please call 974-4700.

Please join us in removing "litter on a stick" and protecting our neighborhood streets and our scenic highways and medians. You can call the sign owners and ask them to remove their illegal signs and ask them to stop placing them. You can also file complaints requesting enforcement action from the City by calling 974-6576, or by e-mail to Give your name and number or email, and the address location of each illegal sign, and what information is on the sign. The City responds to complaints, so if you don't want these illegal signs in your neighborhoods you need to speak up. Please don't let our beautiful area become just another Dallas, Houston or Los Angeles. I encourage you to share this information with all of your neighbors in your associations and to be proactive.

Please call me at 345-0593 or send e-mail to if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time, Bill L. Meredith 345-0593

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