Today, I took a long walk in Hayward, and I was outraged to see how many campaign signs are illegally posted on public property, and on vacant private lots. Starting today, when I have time, I’m going to start pulling down signs that are obviously posted illegally. Most of these will be signs for Nadia Lockyer, who is the most prolific campaign-sign lawbreaker I’ve noticed.
At noon today (Saturday, October 9), I pulled down six campaign signs for Nadia Lockyer:
- Three were posted on state-owned property*;
- Two were posted on city-owned property*; and
- One was posted on county property* (a water district right-of-way across city property).
All six signs were attached to chain-link fences along a stretch (about 100 yards) on the west side of Mission Blvd., just south from Valle Vista Ave.* As a courtesy, I called and emailed Ms. Lockyer’s campaign, advising where they could pick up the neatly-stacked signs.
Sure, I understand that it’s expensive and cumbersome to run a political campaign, and arranging for permissions from private-property owners to display signs is a huge task. But no candidate should simply ignore the law and post signs everywhere. Nor should any candidate delegate the decision-making process to a private sign company, or accept legal advice from a sign company.
California law exempts campaign signs from the “Outdoor Advertising” laws and regulations, provided that the signs are posted on private property, are less than 32 square feet in size, are posted no earlier than 90 days before the election, and are removed within 10 days after the election. To comply with the law, candidates must file a “Statement of Responsibility” with the Department of Transportation, acknowledging that they are responsible for any costs for removing signs that are not removed within 10 days after the election.
Unfortunately, since the Department of Transportation is only responsible for public roadways, its form letter and the “Statement of Responsibility” refer only to the prohibition of campaign signs on”the right-of-way of any highway,” and don’t clearly explain that campaign signs may not be legally posted on any public property (whether owned by a city, county, district, or state).
Of course, unethical political candidates recognize that public works departments are strapped for cash and can’t afford to send staff to remove campaign signs (and even when they do remove illegal signage, it’s not cost-effective to keep records and invoice candidates for removal costs, since most candidates will ignore the invoices).
Therefore, many unethical candidates simply break the law, paying private companies to post signs everywhere there is traffic.
Does it make sense to vote for unethical candidates who abuse public resources by posting their signs on public property? Certainly not!
Does it make sense to vote for a candidate for County Supervisor who illegally posts campaign signs on county-owned property? Absolutely not!
*/ To be specific, the illegal campaign signs I removed were posted on these parcels: 078C043800700 (city); 078C043801101 (county water district on city property); and 078C043800800, 078C043800900, and 078C043801000 (state property).