Just off Interstate 5 at the Columbia Boulevard exit in North Portland, motorists are presented with a 42-foot-long "Black Lives Matter" sign on the front of an industrial building at 866 N Columbia Blvd.
Somebody didn't like the sign and, on Nov. 23, filed a complaint with the city's Bureau of Development Services. (The bureau declined to provide the name of the complainant, saying that the person's identity was not a public record.)
On Dec. 10, BDS fined owner David Gold $292 for violating the city's sign code. The BLM banner, the bureau determined, exceeds the 32-square-foot maximum size above which building owners must seek permits and was indeed hung without a permit.
That fine increases by $709 every 30 days if the banner isn't permitted or removed.
BDS spokesman Ken Ray says that before citing Gold, the bureau notified him he'd need to remove the banner or apply for a permit, neither of which Gold did.
"The Bureau of Development Services reviews permit applications and enforces the city's sign code without regard to a sign's message or content," Ray says.
Gold acknowledges receiving a warning from BDS, but he isn't happy.
"With all of the current protest signage in Portland and all other problems facing Portland," Gold says, "it's unbelievable that city resources are being used to fine political speech."