Signs of the times; political placards prompt protests

Rose Law Group Reporter Gripe of the Week

Driving down most streets in the Valley, you’ll see large and small, colorful and bland political signs designed to increase name recognition for the Aug. 28 state and federal primary elections. Whether they influence voting has not been documented, to our knowledge, but they must have some sway if signs are stolen or vandalized by a candidate’s opponents.

The Legislature has dealt with complaints about the sizes and “visual pollution” of such signs by ugrading a law that, more than not, still upholds the First Amendment (which, by the way, does not guarantee free speech under any circumstances.).

The law says signs cannot exceed 16 square feet in size in residential zones, or 32 square feet in any other zones, and, there’s a provision some cities have capitalized on that permits for up to two “sign-free zones,” which are limited to areas with tourism, resorts and hotels.

At the same time, it has tied the hands of municipalities that would prefer more stringent restrictions on political signage.

Word has it a bill would be introduced next session to prohibit “massing,” which is grouping small signs to make one large one, and to prohibit billboard-size political signs.

Your Gripe editor believes political signs should be treated as the private (and expensive) personal property of candidates and should be left alone, unless they do, in fact, create a safety hazard.

He also wonders how many of the complainers vote.

Democracy can be inconvenient for some, and free speech might irritate others, but aren’t those the  basics of American life?

A couple more months of “VOTE FOR” signs aren’t going to hurt anything.

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August 2012