BEND, Ore. -

They’re not hard to spot along the streets in Bend:  Signs advertising various businesses and services.  While they may serve a purpose for businesses, they also can clutter and obstruct the public right-of-way. 

City staff are now educating business owners and enforcing the sign code in the public right-of-way -- and have a couple former police officers -- one a former chief -- helping make that happen

Doing that work are two long-time city employees who have come back in different roles.  Retired police officers Sandi Baxter (who served in various roles, including police chief until her 2011 retirement) and Mike Walsh are now part-time code enforcement officers and have been on the streets working with businesses.

The program works like this:  If a sign is in the right-of-way, a city representative will take the sign, bring it back to the business, and talk to the owner about the sign code and how to comply. 

After the warning, if a business puts the sign back in the right-of-way it may be confiscated.  Any sign obstructing curb ramps and sidewalks will be immediately confiscated with no warning.

So far, city officials say, the program has been a success.  Baxter and Walsh come to the job with 30 years of experience each in dealing with the public in a positive way.

Code enforcement can save money and be more effective by hiring part-time employees with experience, instead of one full-time employee that may have to be trained, city officials said

Galveston and Newport avenues are great examples of how the program is working.  Both were cluttered with multiple a-frame signs.  Now, the public rights-of-way are clear. 

Code enforcement officials say that over 150 businesses have been contacted since the program began with 95 percent positive reaction.

Read the Bend sign code here: http://www.codepublishing.com/OR/Bend/?bend09/Bend0950.html