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Atlanta councilman wants your help redesigning dull, confusing parking signs

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What makes a warning both attractive and useful?

An image of a new parking sign design
Designs like this make reading a parking notice feel less like reading an essay, right?
FirmansyahArts, via crowdspring

Some Atlantans are sick of having to whip out magnifying glasses to figure out if they’ll be ticketed or towed for parking in certain lots.

With hundreds of words of warning crammed onto unsightly signs defending private lots, it’s no surprise that people are caught off guard when they return to boots on their wheels or citations under windshield wipers.

Private parking company reps have suggested the confusing signs have contributed to what some call “predatory booting”—taking advantage of motorists overwhelmed by the “novel” printed on the notices, according to Georgia State University’s independent student paper, The Signal.

So what’s a parking-dependent city to do?

Luckily for aggravated drivers, Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farokhi, of District 2, has a serious beef with the signage clutter, and he wants your help to design a sign template that’s helpful and hard to miss.

Last month, Farokhi launched a crowdsourcing effort to woo some creative and practical sign ideas from the community.

One of many submissions that would change what Atlantans deal with today.
Ro_C, via crowdSPRING

Designers have until only Saturday to enter the contest—the reward is $500 for the winner—and 225 entries had already been submitted as of press time.

Says Farokhi’s CrowdSPRING page: “The sign is meant to alert those seeking to park in a private lot that, if they do so without paying or following parking lot rules, they may get towed or booted. The current sign is a disaster: hundreds of words jammed together. No one reads it or notices it.”

The new sign, he wrote, needs to be intuitive—“maybe even friendly”—while citing the specifics of when and how you can park. (Head here for a rundown of language that each sign must incorporate).

“Feel free to be creative with language or imagery at the top of the sign to ensure people see the sign (e.g., “Hello!”),” Farokhi said.

This isn’t the councilman’s first push toward creating a more visually compelling city.

Farokhi also enlisted an arts and culture advisor to his staff, and last month, he lobbied to boost Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs budget to $2 million—more than twice what it used to be, according to Atlanta Loop.

Farokhi, of course, isn’t the first local leader to work toward sprucing up boring old city signage.

Last year, Atlanta’s planning commissioner, Tim Keane, spearheaded an initiative to liven up notices that indicate upcoming tree removals or rezoning efforts. It’s hard to miss them now.