Tag Archives: political signs

Signs: The Lawful Sequel

Earlier today, I posted Amy Ancel’s story about the theft of legal signs for non-profit events. Here’s a re-post from 2017, courtesy of the Westport Police Department:

Unfortunately we have experienced vandalism and theft regarding temporary signs in the past. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. These crimes may lead to criminal charges such as trespassing, criminal mischief and/or larceny.

The following policy has been established by town officials, in order to provide coordination for the placement of temporary signs by Westport non-profit organizations wishing to advertise one-time-only charitable events.  Signs placed on public property advertising a private business or company will be removed. (Bold italics are mine!)

The sign in the foreground is illegal. (Photo/John Karrel)

General Guidelines for ALL Temporary Signs

  • Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way.
  • The town may not approve, nor is it responsible for, any signs erected on State of Connecticut property. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway), as the state may remove them.
  • No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission of the superintendent’s office.
  • No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore.
  • No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.
  • No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.
  • No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.
  • Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private property shall not extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-way and is suggested they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.

There are rules for advertising charitable events.

Temporary Signs for Advertising Charitable Events

The placement and locations of temporary signs on Town property for the purpose of advertising a charitable event requires review and approval by the Westport police chief, director of Planning and Zoning, and director of Parks & Recreation, or their designated representatives. Qualifying organizations (i.e. local non-profits) may send the attached request, including proposed locations, for the placement of temporary signs to: Selectman’s Office, Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880 or selectman@westportct.gov.

The following conditions will apply to charitable events:

  • A maximum of 15 signs are allowed for each such event. This includes directional signs.
  • The signs may be erected not more than 2 weeks before the event and must be removed within 2 days after the publicized event.
  • The size of the sign cannot exceed 2 feet by 3 feet.
  • Non-compliance may result in the removal of signs.

Please note that this press release pertains to Town of Westport roads, and not state roads, like Route 1, Route 33, Route 57 and Route 136.

Temporary Signs for Political Purposes

Political signs are considered an expression of free speech and are allowed on public property. The General Guidelines noted above apply to temporary signs for political purposes.

 

P&Z Signs Off

Tag sales. Computer help. Painting services.

Effective immediately, those signs — and all those others crowding town-owned roads, traffic islands and rights-of-way — will be removed.

And discarded.

That’s the promise of the Planning and Zoning Department, according to a press release sent earlier today. It reiterates regulations that have been in place since at least 2002.

A few caveats:

Temporary signs advertising charitable events may be placed on town property. They require approval by the chief of police, P&Z director and Parks and Recreation director (or their “designated representatives”). Qualifying organizations (“i.e., local non-profits”) must fill out a request form — including proposed locations.

There’s a maximum of 15 signs for each event. They can’t be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and must be removed within 2 days. Maximum size is 2 feet by 3 feet.

In addition, signs cannot be placed on school property without permission of the superintendent’s office; or “within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore”; or on Town Hall property, trees or utility poles, or in any way that interferes with traffic visibility.

Political signs are considered “an expression of free speech,” and are allowed on public property. But the guidelines above — amazingly — also refer to “temporary signs for political purposes.”

Signs on private property require owner’s approval. It is “suggested” that they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.

The town does not control — and is not responsible for — signs on state property. Town guidelines say, “It is not advisable” to place signs on property, rights of way and islands on Route 1, 136, 57, 33 and the Sherwood Island Connector, or the I-95 and Merritt Parkway ramps.

All that info was announced today. Let’s see how much better the town looks tomorrow.

Hey, they did say “effective immediately.”

A Sensible Solution To So Many Signs

Voters are not the only Westporters turned off by political signs.

Candidates are too.

In fact, they dislike them so much — the expense, the putting-up-and-taking-down, the “arms race” feeling they engender and the animus they create — that one local politician proposes a solution:

Get rid of them entirely.

The idea comes from an RTM candidate. He (or she) agreed not to be named, because the goal here is sanity and a less visually polluted streetscape, not self-promotion.

(Photo/David Meth)

But here is his (or her) plan:

In the next election cycle, give candidates the option to donate the money they’d otherwise spend on signs to a fund that would create a website. The site would include pertinent information about all candidates who participate, with a link to their own personal web pages.

There would be plenty of publicity, so voters would know which candidates are voluntarily forgoing yard signs, in favor of the website. Each candidate’s financial contribution would be posted on the site.

Each candidate would design their own page. They could write or post as much information as they’d like, including videos.

In addition, each RTM district could hold candidates debates — perhaps at the library. They’d be videotaped, and posted on the website too.

Part of the funds used for signs could instead help rent commercial space downtown. (There’s no shortage of empty stores!) Candidates could have “office hours,” when voters would drop in and ask questions.

Parents could bring their children, to learn about the political process. (After which, they’d all go shopping downtown.)

The RTM candidate who suggests this has his (or her) own website. But he (or she) has to walk door to door, and post on social media, to let voters know about it. (Mailing out flyers is prohibitive.)

“I’ve been chased by people and bitten by 3 dogs, among other things,” the candidate says.

“And I can’t blame homeowners. I don’t like it when people come to my door either.

“An opt-in, robust central information repository, and ‘office hours’ for the public to talk to each candidate, just makes more sense to me.”

Stop, Thief!

Hot on the heels of another torrid “06880” discussion, the Westport Police Department notes that they have received “a number of phone calls” regarding the theft of campaign signs. They remind Westporters that this is not exactly legal.

Chief Dale Call says: “The taking of campaign signs from either private or public property that their presence is allowed on will not be tolerated, and is subject to a criminal arrest.”

He offers this alternative: “A better way to indicate a person’s voting preference is at the polls.”