Los Altos Hills officials: Be wary of misleading mail adverts

The lettering, all in caps, looks official enough: “Los Altos Hills Notice.”

Then follows a statement in capitalized red lettering: “Home Addresses Will Be Painted On Your Street.”

But the mailer did not originate from the town of Los Altos Hills, town officials warn. Instead, it came from Curb Appeal Addressing, an Oakland business that seems to take creative license with its advertising.

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Courtesy of Curb Appeal Addressing
A copy of the flyer sent to Los Altos Hills residents. Click to enlarge.

“The verbiage is rather authoritative, so you almost think, ‘Oh, it’s government. It must be even though there’s very small lettering at the bottom that says, This is not a government entity,’” said Sarah Robustelli, town community services supervisor.

For $35, Curb Appeal Addressing will paint a home’s address on the curb or driveway, according to the glossy flier.

The service is “highly recommended by first responders, including firefighters, police officers and other emergency vehicles that depend on curb addresses when locating homes, especially at night,” the flyer claims. As if to illustrate this point, the advertisement features a photo of a man wearing a white button-down shirt with a Red Cross-like emblem. He appears to be espousing the benefits of curb numbering to an enthralled female resident.

At least two Los Altos Hills residents had reached out to Robustelli by last week to inquire whether the town organized the service, prompting her to post a notice about the flyer to the Los Altos Hills network Sept. 9. Referring to the document as a “non-sanctioned town mailer,” Robustelli said town officials do not endorse the business and that Code Enforcement Officer Irma Gowin is looking into the matter.

One resident responded to Robustelli’s post by stating Curb Appeal Addressing painted numbers on his driveway two years ago without authorization and then harassed him for payment.

Reached by email last week, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rich Urena said he is unaware of any complaints about the flyer made to his department.

“This is a common practice advertisers use, and I am not aware of any laws that prevent the practice, although they will need to get a business license from the town if they in fact provide services,” Urena said.

Painting on curbs and/or the street is not even legal in Los Altos Hills unless an encroachment permit is obtained through the Public Works Department first, Gowin said. The cost of such a permit is typically $592, but it depends on the work involved.

“The permit is pretty expensive, and I don’t think property owners are going to want that, plus pay the person who is doing the work as well,” she said. “But who knows? They might, right? You just never know.”

There are currently no prohibitions on painting private driveways.

Gowin called the number listed for Curb Appeal Addressing on the flyer and left a voicemail stating the town’s rules, but she had not heard back as of Friday.

Similar scheme

In April, the police department in Roseville posted a warning on its Facebook page about a similar advertising scheme. For $10, residents in that Sacramento suburb could have black numerals painted on their curbs, according to a neon orange flyer taped to garage doors. The patriotically inclined could shell out an extra $5 to cover the addition of an American flag background.

“Home address numbers will be professionally painted along your street tomorrow. Home address numbers will improve neighborhood watch, safety, and security of your family,” according to the all-caps font featured on the flyer.

The flyer instructs Roseville residents to fill out a form and place it in front of their garage doors by 8 a.m. the next day. Nowhere does it include the name of the company performing the work or a phone number to contact the company.

“I think that was slightly strategic on their part, so we couldn’t reach out to them,” said Rob Baquera, Roseville Police Department public information officer.

Painting curbs is not allowed in Roseville because curbs are located within the city right-of-way and doing so is defacing public property, according to the Roseville Police Department’s April 9 Facebook post.

Voicemails left at two phone numbers associated with Curb Appeal Addressing and an email to the company went unanswered for days leading up to the Town Crier’s press deadline. Despite the “not a government entity” disclaimer on the flyer, the company categorizes itself as a “government organization” on its Facebook page. Curb Appeal Addressing’s website states the business has existed since 2001, and it serves communities in 10 California counties including Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Los Altos Hills residents may report harassment from peddlers and solicitors by calling the nonemergency Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at (408) 299-2311.

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