It may not be as dramatic as Baltimore's "Believe" campaign, but Annapolis is launching its own public relations initiative: Say no to stickers.
Mayor Ellen O. Moyer has sent a letter to local businesses, asking them to not give away so many free promotional stickers or to make people pay for them. She also asked merchants to tell customers to use the decals responsibly.
Annapolis spends nearly $50,000 a year to remove stickers from public property such as walls and light poles, city officials estimate. "Frankly, $50,000 to clean up the mess could be better spent on recreation programs or paving," Moyer wrote in her Jan. 6 letter. "Stickers have become the new version of graffiti."
No one is saying that Annapolis' sticker shock is as problematic as Baltimore's struggle with drugs and violence, which residents are urged by city leaders to "believe" they can overcome.
But in Annapolis, where tourism is the top trade and city workers put up flags, flowerpots and wreaths for holidays and Navy football games, officials say stickers send the wrong message to visitors.
"This is a special place and a special city. Stickers on poles and walls don't belong here," said Moyer, the so-called "Mother of Greenscape" who previously pushed for the flower baskets downtown and a spring cleanup.
Not surprisingly, local merchants won't acknowledge being the source of the decals. And an unofficial survey of the stickers on walls and poles yesterday found that many are U.S. Postal Service address labels or of the "Hello, my name is ... " variety.
David Kneas, owner of Oceans II Records on Main Street, said he gives out many promotional stickers but that he has seen onlyone or two of them around town. "I'm almost insulted," he said, joking.
Kneas did say he occasionally sees unsightly clumps of stickers around town. "I'd rather see something else," he said.
Others are more adamant. "Those things are everywhere, and they're an eyesore," said Rusty Romo, owner of Harry Browne's Restaurant on State Circle and president of the Annapolis Business Association. Romo said he has found stickers on his gutters, mailboxes, trash cans and on his car.