Faces of Snipe 2: Colleen and Paula at 651-317-9699

My dad dropped off this sign at my house after he removed it from a boulevard in St. Paul.

Sell Your House in 9 Days!!! Snipe

For future reference, I don’t need the signs. A photo is fine.

This let to an interesting phone encounter. Before calling, I searched for the phone number online. What did I find? Nothing. There were no records on the web for this phone number. That may be something a prospective client to consider. Do you really want to trust your personal information to people with no public profile?

Now, onto the call. The number rang a Google Voice number, which said the service would attempt to contact Colleen and Paula. First names only. Sketchy.

I connected with one of the two people that apparently share this number and explained that I wasn’t a fan of this type of advertising. This led to some interesting theories on why this type of advertising is justified by this particular team of home buyers.

The first explained that it’s not her, but a company she hires, who puts out the signs. I reminded her that she’s responsible for the contractors she hires, since they’re hired to do what she tells them to do. She conceded that that’s true and later asked where I found the sign (my dad found it in the NW Como neighborhood) and she agreed to contact the company and ask them to avoid that area in the future (at least the few blocks around my parent’s house). I asked her to avoid the City of St. Paul, but she wasn’t willing to do that.

She told me that I was discriminating by picking on her use of yard signs. Apparently, it’s discrimination to call her out if I don’t call out EVERY person who posts snipe advertising on boulevards. I assured her that she was NOT special, so shouldn’t feel like she’s being discriminated against.

She said that she was doing a lot of good for the neighborhood by helping people get out of their homes. I explained that there are many routes for people interested in getting out of their homes that don’t involve responding to ads placed on boulevards. She said that the MLS doesn’t work for everyone, based on the large number of active listings. While I wasn’t defending the MLS, I think we found some common ground around the concept of pricing homes right tends to get them sold (and that not everyone is in a position to offer their home for what it’s truly worth today).

She said that 5 or so years ago, yellow pages and newspapers worked well for advertising, but neither does today. That’s interesting to hear. More likely, it doesn’t work as well as she’d like for the cost. However, that doesn’t justify advertising on the city’s boulevards.

She explained that other types of businesses seem to be allowed to place signs, including real estate open house signs and garage sales. I explained to her that they seem to have a bit of an exception since they’re only up for a few hours to a few days while her signs are not tied to a finite event. She didn’t seem to see the difference, but did say that her signs don’t stay up forever. That’s likely because people get sick of looking at them and eventually dispose of her litter.


The most interesting comment from Colleen or Paula concerned how my calling about her placement of ads on city boulevards related to what this says about the state of our country’s political direction. She told me that we haven’t been fully “taken over by socialism” yet as a justification for her freedom to place ads for her private business on public property.

It was a fairly Michele Bachmann-esque explanation of why she and her business partner are entitled to spam neighborhoods with her plastic signs.

To me, this sounds like a case of someone who doesn’t understand that she’s playing by a different set of rules than the vast majority of residents of the City of St. Paul. She seems to feel that her behavior is justified because she’s doing some sort of a public service by offering to buy houses based on an anonymous phone number, no company name, and first names only.

Frankly, I’d be very surprised to see Colleen or Paula change their behavior. They seem to have an altruistic justification for spamming neighborhoods in order to promote their private business.

6 thoughts on “Faces of Snipe 2: Colleen and Paula at 651-317-9699”

  1. Howdy Ed,

    I’ve dealt with snipe ads for a long time here in Eden Prairie. Our development has Mitchell Road cutting through it — a fairly well trafficked thoroughfare — and I’ve routinely picked up and trashed signs ranging from the cheesy to the elaborate, from the “Facing Foreclosure? We buy houses” to “See how my life was transformed” (he was saved by Jesus I discovered). Whenever I walk the dog I pick ’em up and stop by our local park which has a huge trash container.

    My wife, a woman who always wants to help people lift themselves up, comments that, “They’re only trying to make a living” and then we discuss it….at length and ad nauseum…

    …until I went on the hunt for the Eden Prairie ordinance that strictly prohibits this practice:


    SECTION 11.70. SIGN PERMITS. Subd. 1. Purpose and Intent. The purpose of this Section is to protect and promote the general welfare, health, safety, and order within the City through the establishment of a comprehensive and impartial series of standards, regulations and procedures governing the erection, use and/or display of devices, signs or symbols serving as visual communicative media to persons situated within or upon public right-of-way or private properties. The provisions of this Section are intended to encourage creativity, a reasonable degree of freedom of choice, an opportunity for effective communication, and a sense of concern for the visual amenities on the part of those designing, displaying or otherwise utilizing needed communicative media of the types regulated by this Section; while at the same time assuring that the public is not endangered, annoyed or distracted by the unsafe, disorderly, indiscriminate or unnecessary use of such communicative facilities.


    After this section introduction, it goes on to detail (with granular specifics) exactly what is and is not permitted, what the ramifications of violations are, and how to get a permit. You can see more here on the 125th page of this PDF of the Chapter 11 of the *very* long Eden Prairie City Codes: http://www.edenprairie.org/vCurrent/upload/contents/228/City%20Code%20Chapter%2011%205-2010.pdf

    So here’s the thought: I’m guessing St. Paul has a similar ordinance? If not, could you get the City Council to make one? Then it would be a matter of trying to enforce it (as it always is) but I figure people like you (and me) are more than willing to keep pinging our City managers over-n-over again and get them to crack down on it by going after the “sign spammers”.

    My $.02…

  2. Saint Paul does indeed have such an ordinance, and the signs are nothing more than litter. They belong in the trash.

  3. Next time soneone says “socialism” could you ask them to outline and define it. Including citing three sources.

    And ask them how they like capitalisms oil spill.

  4. Washington County has an ordinance against this litter and I periodically call the highway department or my county commissioner to remind them of it. Meanwhile, I also collect them and deposit them in the trash, although sometimes the posts make nice supports for plants in the garden, so thanks for that, illegal sign placers! It’s especially satisfying to collect them just hours after they go up.

  5. I grab these from my neighborhood – thankfully there’s not much “street spam” that finds its way around us and my neighbors and I dump it as soon as we see it.

    Odd that if someone chucked a bag of fast food garbage onto the median no one would care if one picked it up – – but street spammers are incredulous someone dare remove eyesore free advertising.

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