Many people move to Fallbrook – “out to the country” – because it is beautiful, but keeping it beautiful can be a problem. As Fallbrook’s population has grown, as well as the traffic flowing through it, the amount of trash littering sidewalks and roadways has also multiplied.
Increased traffic in and out of Fallbrook has led to a mess the length of Mission Road. Fallbrook native Jan Sholes has spent five years trying to keep Fallbrook clean. She picks up trash regularly and reminds people to not litter and to pick up after their dogs.
“This is my town; I don’t want to look at it [trash]. I don’t trash my town,” Sholes said.
Beyond fast food trash and cigarette butts, one of her pet peeves is “vertical litter” – signs posted on telephone and electric poles that eventually fall on the ground. Most people do not know that putting up those garage/yard sale signs is illegal.
It is a misnomer, Sholes said, “that it is okay to post signs as long as you take them down.” She wants everyone to know that California Penal Code states: 556.1. It is a misdemeanor for any person to place or maintain or cause to be placed or maintained upon any property in which he has no right of possession any sign, picture, transparency, advertisement, or mechanical device which is used for the purpose of advertising, or which advertises or brings to notice any person, article of merchandise, business or profession, or anything that is to be or has been sold, bartered, or given away, without the consent of the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession of such property before such sign, picture, transparency, advertisement, or mechanical device is placed upon the property.
The fines for violations are $100 per sign the first time, $200 per sign the second time, and $1,000 per sign the third time along with up to six months in jail. At the present time, no one is enforcing this law. Sholes was told that is up to the Director of Transportation and the District Attorney.
To complicate the matter, removing signs on power or telephone poles is the responsibility of SDG&E and AT&T which have people trained to remove the signs. While Sholes can’t file a complaint about signs not on her property, she does let people know that they should not be posting them.
Her campaign to raise awareness of the littering problem has had some success. Her making property and business owners aware of the litter on their property has resulted in many of them making the effort to clean up trash.
“It doesn’t take an ad hoc committee to discuss trash pickup; it takes one person with a trash bag,” Sholes said.
She credits Mary at Valley View Mobile Home Park for her and her staff’s efforts in cleaning their portion of Alturas Road. Farther down the road, Superior Ready Mix keeps its yard and area cleaned up too. According to Sholes, FPUD keeps it solar facility area cleaned up and a volunteer in a flowered shirt regularly sweeps and cleans up the Fallbrook Post Office property.
Sholes also credits Madd Potter for cleaning up its area on East Mission Road. She had let them know it was a mess and should look good since it is at the entrance to Fallbrook. The staff has kept it cleaned up ever since then.
Residents can also band together to do their part. Those in Peppertree Park on South Mission have formed an Adopt-a-Road group to clean up litter in their section of town. Care Rite Vocational Service also takes part in the Adopt-a-Road program by cleaning up Fallbrook Street.
The Fallbrook Beautification Alliance (FBA) holds Community Clean Up Days twice a year. This April, 42 volunteers picked up over 1621 pounds of trash, cleaning up about 18 miles of local roads. FBA volunteers go out cleaning up trash throughout the year; anyone interested in joining them will find a volunteer form at www.fallbrookbeautification.org/how-can-i-help/volunteer.html.
At Sholes’ prodding, the Department of Public Works (DPW) investigated and determined that Fallbrook does have a trash problem. So, it has set up a schedule to have a road crew pick up trash and pull down signs every two weeks, on Tuesdays. The crew rotates to a different section of Fallbrook roads each time.
Sholes said, “I’d rather the DPW be fixing roads, street light outages, traffic lights and other tasks, rather than picking up trash.”
Sholes reported that Zeke Maldonado, supervisor of the Bonsall road crew for DPW, takes down 30 to 40 signs each time his crew visits Fallbrook. The crew has also cleaned up the Odd Fellows Cemetery on Alturas.
To report trash or for more information on Adopt-A-Road, call (858) 694-3850; to report trash that is outside of the roadway, call the Department of Environmental Health at (858) 694-3741.
The County’s Adopt-A-Road program is for county-maintained roads. To adopt a section of state highway or interstate freeway, call CalTrans at (619) 688-3367.
If anyone wants to take on the problem of vertical litter, she recommends looking up Citizens Against Ugly Street Spam at CAUSS.org – it’s a program that offers residents advice on eliminating illegal signs. Locally, pictures of illegal signs can be sent to George Fang of DPW, [email protected]
Sholes is very grateful for the help of both Fang and Maldonado in helping to clean up Fallbrook.
For people who want to advertise their garage, yard or estate sale, Sholes suggested using A-frame or sandwich board signs set up at street corners. One or two would do she said.
Sholes’ advice to all residents and visitors is, “Don’t litter; keep a litter bag in your car and don’t dump cigarette bumps out your window. Help people keep Fallbrook beautiful.”