Monday, April 12, 2010

New "Keith Reitman Rule" May Outlaw Sharpie Marker Building Addresses...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

The Minneapolis City Council is set to consider an ordinance change which would outlaw the use of spray paint, Sharpie markers, Crayola brand crayons, and some other ticky-tacky means of displaying addresses on buildings in the manner of notorious slumlords like Keith "1564 Hillside Ave. N" Reitman is known to use.

Here is how the old ordinance CURRENTLY reads:

The owner of any public or non public residential, commercial, industrial, or other building in the city shall display properly on the front and rear thereof and in a position easily observed from the street, and in numbers not less than four (4) inches in height, the proper address number of such building.

And HERE is how the suggested "new and improved" anti-Keith Reitman with a Sharpie marker ordinance reads....

New and existing buildings shall have approved address numbers, building numbers or approved building identification placed in a position that is plainly legible and visible (1) from the street or road fronting the property and (2) from the rear or on a building accessory to the building at the rear. The rear address number may be omitted if there is no public way at the rear of the building. The numbers shall contrast with their background.

Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals. Numbers shall be a minimum of four (4) inches high with a minimum stroke width of one-half (1/2) inch. The numbers shall not be comprised of spray painted or hand-painted numbers nor shall the numbers be otherwise hand-applied by marker, tape or similar product not pre-fabricated for the specific purpose of address identification.

(End of proposed wording)

I'm so glad to see the City Council moving forward on this small but incredibly aggravating issue. It can also be something of a public safety problem when buildings don't bear clear address markings and somebody needs to call 911.

Now, if only the City Council could do something about...

1.) The way the city property info website doesn't allow a search by name of owner, so finding the patterns with problem property owners is more difficult an exercise than it needs to be...unlike in cities like Superior, Wisconsin, click here for an example.

2.) Discolored, sticker-festooned Plexiglass so-called "windows," like the Friedman's Shoe Store "butt glass." (Click here for more info)

3.) Sodden, messy, so-called "memorials" to shooting victims which appear on public property and don't go away in a timely fashion, making residents in the area feel like they have to live in a cemetery, click here for more info.

4.) Certain ugly paint colors favored by Keith Reiman. (OK, I'm just kidding about that last part but, honestly, the man chooses paint colors about as well as he shaves)

Oh, I should add (as though it's not obvious) the Johnny Northside Dot Com blog officially supports and endorses this change in the city ordinance.


Patrick said...

I have artistic hand painted numbers on my home. I would like to see an exception for tastefully hand painted numbering.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

A small correction, John. The wonderful website in question is the Douglas County website. But you should still reference Superior, WI because far more people know where Superior is versus Douglas County.

Somewhere in between best and worst said...

Look, in Keith Reitman's defense, that Sharpie marker address is certainly not the best, but certainly not the worst address system. It's perfectly Keith Reitman.

Ranty said...


I have seen some BEAUTIFULLY hand-painted address numbers [in SoMi.]

One might suppose that this tippy-toe-y wording could have an impact on people who are being artistic (and taking great care of their properties) at the same time.

How about just saying "no sharpie numbers?"

Seems to me that would be simpler.

And, you know, okay, no crayons either.

emma said...

When (fingers crossed) this passes I will take it to the person down the street with their address spray painted in black on their brown concrete porch. Which may or may not have appeared after I called 311 about them not having a visible address. The black on brown thing may have thrown me off..

Anonymous said...

We definitely need to step up code enforcement in NoMi. I'm 100% in support of the revitilization efforts, but every time I drive around the neighborhood and look around I'm left with the overwhelming impression that 95% of the properties look like absolute crap.

And I'm beginning to worry that our efforts aren't having much of a positive effect on the impression that people have of our neighborhood. It seems that every time I tell someone I live in NoMi and that we are trying to revitalize it they either recoil in horror or laugh at me. It's quite depressing really.

Margaret said...

I am pretty sure that this will get amended to include "nice" hand painted numbers some how or it will not pass. There are lots of houses in south Minneapolis with custom artistic hand painted numbers.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Eh, it wouldn't matter if our numbers are in big bright neon colors; unless they've been here in the past, no one can find our apartment.

Anonymous said...

These laws are only as good as the enforcement.

This sends the right message but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and there is enough cheap tacky commercial lettering out there to make this gesture insignificant.

I rely can't see this as a major step forward because 99.999% of the residences with this issue have other glaring discrepancies that inspectors should be focusing on.

Hans said...

So I guess I need to change my "Phil Kleindl white-on-white" numbers, huh? I thought highlighting them with black sharpie would be enough... but now I see I'm just part of the problem. sigh... another mess of Phil's to clean up.

Anonymous said...

Why should a subject like putting proper numbers on your house so people will know where you live even be an issue? People these days have a habit of thinking the walls of Jericho will crumble if any minor issue is'nt made out to be amajor one.Screw all of you petty time wasting ninnies who will not take up truly relevant causes like your neighbor Michael Kidd who is about to lose his house to a predatory lending company out of Colorado.It;s in saturdays minneapolis metro section.When does the bullshit stop PEOPLE?

Feel For Ya Buuut... said...

I found the Michael Kidd story at

It says he put $45k down on a $190k home. In 2005 that's what it cost. Now it's worth $65k-90k and you are mad the mortgage company won't deal based on present value? I feel for his plight but at the time he took the mortgage he was told the down payment and resulting monthly payments. The fact that the home has a significantly lower value do not change the terms he signed on for. My own home has lost 30% of it's value. I don't expect my mortgage company to lower my payment as a result. I bought the home, they gave the note. I take the risk of my property declining, they take the risk I default. That is the deal we both signed on for.

Anonymous said...

Wow this guys has gumption. Look at this from another article.

"He said he bought the home for $189,000 with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a $45,000 down payment.

"I thought the place was quite a deal," he said.

But when Kidd lost his job in 2008, he said he could no longer afford his $1,160 a month mortgage payment. He missed five payments, and his lender scheduled a sheriff's sale.

At the same time, the home was rapidly decreasing in value as a result of the housing crisis. The city of Minneapolis currently lists the property's taxable value at $115,000.

Luckily, Kidd said, he was only unemployed for six months before he found work as a delivery driver.

He said he then tried to renegotiate his mortgage with Aurora, but the company told him he wasn't eligible for federal loan modification programs. Instead, he said Aurora offered him a new mortgage for $152,000. Under the terms of that mortgage, Kidd said, the interest rate would start out at 2 percent, but would adjust to 5 percent after five years.

"Realistically, the terms that they're offering are ridiculous," he said. "The bank's lost nothing. I've lost my entire life savings."

This guy expects the bank needs to take a loss because he lost a job? If that was how the world works we'd have been writing down loans for years and NO ONE could get a loan. The deal they offered is more than fair taking a $40k hit and giving him a fairly low rate. $1100.00 is not a high payment on say a $160k loan I don't see predatory lending here.

Anonymous said...

Based on the comments I looked into this as well. Can't wait for the Saturday article to see if anything new comes up.

“‘Realistically, the terms that they’re offering are ridiculous,’ he said. ‘The bank’s lost nothing. I’ve lost my entire life savings.’”

So let them foreclose and the bank will lose plenty. They shouldn't have to lose money just to renegotiate your loan. Given they are offing a 2% rate i'd guess they actually are losing money. But if you don't like the deal just walk away. It's just a house. You can rent one equal or better for less money. Given your numbers you didn't really own it anyway. Sorry I don't mean to be harsh but the time you spend protesting could be better spent looking for a great rental.

Francis said...

Isn't there something the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association can do for this guy? Can't it use some of its funding to buy down this guy's loan. He need more owner occupiers in NoMi.

Johnny Northside said...

It seems like one should be able to ask for an exemption for some subjective idea of "nice" and "artistic." But Keith Reitman Sharpie marker is just never going to make the cut.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Lets look into using some sort of neighborhood funds like NRP to buy down or pay off the loans for owner occupants in NOMI.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see any article in the paper on this on Saturday.

Johnny Northside said...

Apparently the STrib didn't feel it was important enough to cover. Don't worry, we have it covered here at Johnny Northside Dot Com.