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Star-Telegram.com

Arlington destroying illegal, Super Bowl-related roadside signs

Posted Monday, Aug. 02, 2010

By Susan Schrock

sschrock@star-telegram.com

ARLINGTON -- Popping up on street corners citywide are hundreds of signs claiming that Arlington homeowners can earn up to $10,000 a day by renting their homes to Super Bowl fans.

The city has picked up and destroyed more than 300 of the illegally placed "bandit" signs, Community Services Director Lee Hitchcock said. The small, black and white signs decorated with footballs and dollar signs have largely been concentrated along major thoroughfares and in neighborhoods surrounding Cowboys Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be held in February.

Arlington has told two Phoenix-based companies to stop putting out the signs and has issued them a combined 18 Class C misdemeanor citations, Hitchcock said.

"With the run-up to the Super Bowl, these signs have proliferated," he said. "There are no approved locations for such signs. The city's ordinance for years has been that illegal bandit signs are visual clutter and they are an inappropriate way to advertise a business."

Each year, the city picks up 20,000 to 50,000 illegally placed signs advertising everything from investors buying houses to quick-weight-loss plans, Hitchcock said.

This year, more than 20,000 signs have been removed from rights of way, he said.

North Arlington council member Mel LeBlanc said he was shocked by the number of bandit signs that he and his wife saw recently on the way to their weekly bike ride at River Legacy Parks.

"There was one sign after another illegally placed in the right of way offering outrageous money per day. It was literally on every corner," said LeBlanc, who called the companies to ask them to stop putting up the signs. "They just clutter the aesthetics of north Arlington."

The city issued an official statement saying that residents who are considering doing business with such companies "should exercise caution and due diligence" and that those who rent out their properties would be subject to city and state hotel occupancy taxes.

"It's buyer beware. These companies are asking for your dollars upfront. The city makes no guarantee for their veracity," Hitchcock said.

He said the companies may also be exaggerating how much homeowners could earn or whether there will even be a market. The National Football League has already booked more than 24,000 hotel rooms in North Texas, which has more than 90,000 hotel rooms, according to the Super Bowl host committee's website.

"We do not anticipate a strong demand for home rentals. They are raising expectations that are not realistic," Hitchcock said.

Kyle Franklin, an agent with World Class Lodging in Phoenix, disagreed. His company is already receiving calls from interested Dallas-Fort Worth homeowners. Based on the size and location of the house, Franklin said owners can earn $1,500 to $7,500 a day by renting.

"When the Super Bowl was here, the homes were in high demand," Franklin said. "The hotels are already booked."

World Class Lodging posts photos of available homes on its website and charges the owners 12 percent of the rental fee, Franklin said. The company does not give guidance on any taxes that the owner may owe, he said.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639

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