The team at SFAR has received an increasing number of complaints about A-Frames and standing signs that have been positioned improperly or abandoned after their use. In some, but certainly not all, cases the signs are left by Agents who belong to a reciprocal MLS or outside Association. It would seem logical that a call to the SFAR Membership of MLS department would be the best first step, but neither SFAR nor SFARMLS are empowered to remove these signs or act to correct the Agent's behavior. 

The City of San Francisco covers rules on all types of signs in Article 6 of the San Francisco Municipal Code. The City's site does provide a plain-language Sign Controls guide, but that guide does not call out A-Frame boards specifically. What this guide does illustrate, is that smaller form factor "temporary" signs (which our temporary Open House/Showing signs match) have the following guidance throughout the Signs Matrix of data by Zoning Code:

The two general principles that all real-estate related signs MUST follow is fairly clear:

  1. No permit is required for temporary signs.  
  2. Temporary signs must be removed on completion of the activity. 

So, what can you do when you spot an A-Frame that is violating the City's rules on signs, or one that appears to have been abandoned? 

If the sign is on private property, the owner of the property is free to do anything they want with it. An abandoned "SOLD" sign might fit this case and once the property owner has concluded that the Agent is not going to retrieve the sign, they can simply dispose of it.

The more frequent situation is one where the sign has been setup in a common space, such as an A-Frame advertising a Showing down the street from the listing. The best course of action is to always try to contact the Agent on the sign itself FIRST. Give them the information on where you saw the sign, and let them know that you believe the sign may have simply been missed after a showing. Try to use helpful language that does not create a confrontation. 

It might be that the Agent is unresponsive, or explains why they are unable to remove the sign. In this case, the final course of action is to call the City to have the sign removed. 

Steps to Report

Call 311 - at the language prompts, make your preference and then wait for the call routing tree. Option 3 is the "for all other calls" option you can select to let the City know the exact location of a sign that has been abandoned. The Association does not know at what point the city will act on the information provided, and cannot help to get your request prioritized. 

In Conclusion

It is critical that we all follow the City's ordinance in Section 6 regarding the use, placement, and management of signs. Abandoned signs reflect poorly on your personal brand, your Brokerage (or Franchise) and on the general professional agent community. Make sure you quickly remove any signage related to temporary work activities, and promptly take down any 'post closing' signage as soon as is reasonable.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. Please contact the City at 311 to report any problems with signs.