Political season brings a lot of garbage. It brings garbage to our televisions via political attack ads, to our mailboxes via mailers and to our neighborhoods via political yard signs. The latter are called political yard signs because that is where they’re supposed to go – on the yard. However, many of these signs make it to public areas even though it is against the law. In fact, the municipal code specifically notes that these specialty signs are only allowed on private property. (Chula Vista Code 19.60.600(K))
Which candidates put signs on public areas? It’s mostly novice candidates who don’t know any better and think that plastering their signs all over the place will help them win. Those candidates usually end up losing anyway. Sometimes, it’s veteran candidates who do know better but don’t care.
There is a good reason why these signs are only allowed on private areas. First and foremost is the garbage issue. After the election, most of these signs are taken down by a homeowner who then throws away the yard sign placed on their lawn – no mess no bother. However, for the signs placed on public areas, the city must use valuable labor to go around and take down these signs.
Even worse, many signs live on much longer especially the ones put in hard to reach areas. After the candidate has won and consolidated his power, or is licking his or her wounds of defeat, he or she could cares less about old signs so, while most are picked up, some remain in the same spot for many months after.
It might be too late for this election, but perhaps there is something that residents can do:
1) ask current candidates when they come to your door whether they have signs on public property,
2) ask candidates in future elections to sign a pledge to follow the law and only place signs on private areas, and
3) ask the city to take down the signs on public areas before the election to reduce the incentive to do so in the future.
If you are a candidate who places signs or allows your signs to be placed in public areas, you are making a statement that you don’t care about your neighborhood or your city. So, please, do the right thing, respect your neighborhood and, above all, respect the law.