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Curb painting service leads to confusion

CARLSBAD — The address isn’t painted on the curb in front of the house Sam Ross lives in, although it’s a service he said he wouldn’t mind paying for.
His neighborhood was visited last fall by a person who said he was with a veterans’ organization and would later return to paint the curb.
“You could have it painted plain or with a flag,” Ross said.
He was given a paper with instructions to mark the appropriate box if the curb painting was desired, and to then tape the notice to the mailbox.
A donation of about $25 was requested, but Ross said that nobody returned to perform the work or collect any money.
But a fighting-hunger charity has been painting addresses on curbs in Carlsbad since November, and plans to paint each curb in the city that is a house — excluding apartments and businesses.
Canning Hunger, a nonprofit organization that has painted more than 1 million addresses, has painted 3,000 curbs in the city for free — with a suggested donation amount of $13.
But Carlsbad spokeswoman Kristina Ray said more than a dozen complaints were made about Canning Hunger, which claimed in a flyer to have a city permit to repaint all the curbs.
“Residents were confused about the flyer,” she said.
Carlsbad responded by posting a notice on their website that said that Canning Hunger “is not affiliated with the City of Carlsbad, and the city has not directed the group to repaint all curb addresses on public streets, as claimed in the group’s promotional flyer.”
Representatives from the organization had collected donations from residents, and said they were working for the city, according to Ray.
“People were being confused at what his (Canning Hunger’s) representatives have been telling residents,” she said.
But the organization’s founder, Pastor Norm Whan, said that Canning Hunger obtained a business license from the city and showed the city the door flier.
“We submitted the door hanger to the city of Carlsbad per their request,” Whan said.
He said after the door hanger was submitted that the city gave the organization instructions on how to paint the curb.
“We went about our business and painted 3,000 out of 4,000 curbs,” he said.
Ray said the curb painting isn’t an issue, and that Carlsbad does allow Canning Hunger’s type of fundraising, but a business license does not mean the city endorses the practice.
She said people can decide for themselves if they want their curb painted.
Carlsbad City Councilman Keith Blackburn said he received a call from a resident who said his curb was painted over, although it had looked perfectly fine.
“He was then asked for a $13 donation,” he said.
Blackburn said the resident would have said no to the service, had he first been asked if he wanted it.
“He said there was just a tone that said it was a city-endorsed project,” he said.
According to the city website: “The City of Carlsbad has not issued a ‘permit’ for any organization to repaint curbs.
Homeowners are not obligated to pay for curb painting they did not request, even if the work has already been completed.”
Whan said that Canning Hunger has painted curbs for more than 50 cities and works hard to maintain its reputation.
“We have had the same name and telephone number for 19 years. This is a free service. It’s free to the city and free to the citizens. Nobody ever has to pay for anything — the value is approximately $13,” he said.
The work begins 72 hours after the door hanger is placed on a door, he said.
There is a number on the hanger for residents to call if they have any questions.
He said they had received three calls from residents who opted to have their curb not painted, and two calls from people who wanted theirs fixed.
“Both were fixed within 24 hours,” he said.
Whan said that regarding the words on the door hanger,” we put the word permit on the back of the brochure. Permission and permit is used interchangeably.”
Ray said the door flier was submitted to the city, but materials aren’t approved by the city.
“We don’t approve materials,” she said. “It is something we need to look at on our end.”
Whan said the “situation sort of blindsided us,” when the city didn’t contact the organization before posting their notice online.
They have 1,000 curbs left to paint, he said.