katharine lotze


katharine lotze


It’s a Sign

By Katharine Lotze
Originally published in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Most people don’t notice them. But Peter Arreola does — every single one.

“When you do this, you notice every sign,” says Arreola, a street maintenance worker with the city of Santa Clarita.

He’s talking about street signs — everything from no-parking signs to crosswalk signs.

Fellow maintenance worker Ryan Jones says there can be more than a hundred in a half-mile stretch of road.

Jones and Arreola periodically replace worn-out and damaged signs around the city. One day last week they had replaced 20 signs before lunch.

The city has a sign inspection program that sends workers out at night to test the reflectivity of signs and make note of the ones that have lost their luster.

“We’re trying to be pro-active,” said Arreola.

It’s never just one thing that breaks down a sign. The most common factors are heat and direct sunlight, but graffiti and sticker vandalism also cause many a sign’s demise.

Jones and Arreola agree that stickers are the worst, citing mailing labels available for free at the post office as the worst offenders.

They’re made of paper, said Jones, so they’re harder to remove, and the adhesive is strong.

“I hate those stickers,” Arreola said. “It’s a big mess.”