Some campaign signs are posted legally — some are not

By Harold J. Schachter

There are laws, regulations, and policies that govern the public display of election campaign signs. Referring to candidates running for public office, there are some who obey these laws, rules, and regulations — and some who don’t.

Every candidate who files to run for elective office receives a copy of the laws and policies regarding lawful placement of election campaign signs from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office.

YOU can determine whether a candidate abides by the law and regulations, or not. It’s not rocket science. There are laws and policies that apply to the legal posting of such campaign signs within the rights-of-way of public highways, streets, avenues, roads, etc. And there are government codes that apply to posting of signs — such as election campaign signs on utility poles.

This commentary will attempt to inform the reader about the display of election signs:

1. Within rights-of-way, and

2. On utility poles.

Within Rights-of-Way

These political campaign signs are referred to as “Temporary Political Signs” under state law, and “Temporary Public Election Campaign Posters” under San Diego County policy. Here is an online address for the state law governing temporary political signs and highway rights-of way:

A “highway” refers to a State of California-owned public right-of-way. In Ramona, State Route 67 and State Route 78 are California highways. Parts of them are also known as Main Street. ALL of the remaining publicly-owned thoroughfares in Ramona are county-owned rights-of-way and are “Temporary Public Election Campaign Posters” regulated under San Diego County Policy J-5, online at See Part B, pages 3 and 4.

On Utility Poles

Mounting election campaign signs on public utility poles in California, be they electric or telephone, IS FORBIDDEN and in violation of the law, according to California Penal Code Section 556 through 556.4. The sole exceptions are cited in California Penal Code Section 556.2. Here is the online address:

California law considers mounting ANY such signs as presenting a hazard to the safety of utility workers who might have to climb the pole.

As a general rule, a thoroughfare’s right-of-way extends 10 feet beyond the limits of the width of the thoroughfare’s travelled way, whether it be bounded by a curb, berm, or an unbounded edge of pavement. This 10 feet might be partially or totally occupied by a pedestrian sidewalk and/or a planted area. The foregoing is a general ‘design’ criteria and is not a hard and fast rule although its exception is possible but rare.

Often, a private property’s fence line borders the limit of a thoroughfare’s right-of-way.

A temporary political campaign sign placed on PRIVATE PROPERTY (like a fence) is legal, provided there is authorization from the property owner to place the temporary campaign sign on the property or fence.

Harold J. Schachter is a Ramona resident.

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Oct 9 2012. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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