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Give young people a sign of hope by encouraging more human sign jobs
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It’s tough out there.

Just ask someone between 18 and 19 tears old trying to find a job.

They will tell you of fast food places saying that they are presentable and that they would hire them but they have someone with more experience to pick from. Usually those with more experience are older and also often have college degrees and are looking to take anything they can.

What is happening in Manteca isn’t unique. The national unemployment rate for those aged 18 and 19 trying to break into the job market is almost 21 percent. The odds are it is significantly higher in Manteca given our unemployment rate overall is higher than the national average.

It is probably why more than a few callers and individuals who have gone out of their way to express concern about the proposed changes to the city’s sign rules can’t understand why anyone would consider a law that would take jobs away from young adults in the midst of an economic downturn.

One caller, who said she came of age in The Depression in San Francisco, recalled seeing a number of men walking streets in billboard signs willing to take any job to keep their families fed. The world has changed since then. Government regulation and intrusion into the market place has made it hard for people to create jobs and therefore harder for people to find jobs.

And to those who dismiss minimum wage jobs flipping signs, people have to start somewhere at the very least. That said, in many cases the money makes a big difference for a family or individual.

It should be noted most of the same callers and individuals do not like the proliferation of what the ad hoc sign committee appointed by the Manteca City Council is calling “temporary signs.” They believe the proliferation of flag banners, A-frames, and other signage along curbside is counterproductive and plain ugly. They argue either it makes businesses less appealing to patronize or it isn’t what prompts them to shop at a store.

The human signs are another issue.

One caller noted that a young man who periodically works for a glass company on East Yosemite Avenue waving a sign for the firm at the Powers Avenue intersection is courteous and happy to have a job.

It is safe to say the same is true for perhaps the two dozen other young men and women who have part-time jobs promoting businesses.

How the proposed law would take jobs away is fairly simple. The human signs all ply their trade at busy intersections near but not in front of their employers. The proposed rules restrict human signs to essentially the property where the business sits. That is why the businesses have human signs.

As for safety hazards, just what is the big deal? On my route jogging back from In Shape there are six different human signs that pop up along the sidewalk on the south side of East Yosemite Avenue from time-to-time including Mr. Pickles and The Subway Guy who is supposed to look like a sandwich. They always step out of my path – and that of others. They have never posed a safety threat.

The same can’t be true of drivers who apparently are conditioned to ignore pedestrians in crosswalks as they yak on their cell phones. It should be noted that Mr. Pickles has been assaulted by someone who jumped out of a car, struck him, and then jumped back in and rode away.

And I would be remiss not to point out that there are serious problems with the placement of flag banners and A-frame signs that either impedes movement on sidewalks or – worse yet – block drivers’ views as they are exiting parking lots.

I have yet to be put in danger by a human sign. I can’t say the same thing about banner flags.

If the city should do anything, they should encourage more human signs. It certainly looks a lot better than a business chaining an A-frame to a tree along a major street or putting signs in a landscaped median.

Unlike A-frame signs, when their shift is over human signs go home. A-frames and other temporary signs continue as visual litter. Better yet – they go home having earned a paycheck. And that is a good sign in not just this economy but any economy.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.