Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Scars of a Campaign

[Updates from the campaigns in the comments]

[3/10 update to image - drove by today and noticing something missing, also noticed a change in tax records at the end of last year, so I'm trying to find out if it's the same owner that had previously given permission for campaign signs.]

[3/11 update - The property owner just called to say that the tenants have her authority to either grant or deny campaigns the use of the yard]

What would you do if you had to cut the grass over these holes left from moving one of the campaign signs? What if you looked out of your window each morning and saw the backs of large campaign signs? Who would you complain to? Well, those were the questions I was asked by a renter at 1500 William St while looking at the two campaign signs for Mayor.

Long after the campaigns are over, these residents will still have the responsibilty for cutting the grass over the various holes left in the yard. They routinely have to pick up the blown over yard signs.

On this day, there were three empty wire frames from previous campaigns, three vacant post holes, and probably five holes holding up the current cammpaign signs. Not to mention, before I arrived, there was a campaign sign sprawled in the middle of their yard, along with an empty beer bottle (not related to the campaign). The long term responsibility for this area of the yard lies on the residents, and at least one is not too happy with the campaigns.

According to City ordinance, the city manager may approve (for a fee) a temporary informational sign in a public space. It was unclear if this is the method by which these two campaign signs were erected. It was unclear if these were placed in the public right-of-way. A short google search also indicates that Hanover County points out that VDOT may have to issue a temporary sign permit for a sign over 2x2ft installed in VDOT right-of-way. Further reports indicate this is indeed on private property, governed purely by city code ordinances and ownership consent.

Regardless of the law, politeness would dictate that the campaigns should at least be repairing the scars left from their post hole digging campaigners.


Charlie said...

FYI...the City is not allowed to restrict campaign signs, and VDOT only has jurisdiction to regulate signs put in the public right of way. If the signs are on private property, it is the land owners first amendment right to erect such political signs.

So before you attempt to rake candidates over the coals for something they are doing legally, check your facts!

Bryan said...

And if the landowner erected these signs I would not have written this article.

This is far from a raking - it was bringing it to people's attention that the real estate agent managing the property told at least one renter that they could ask to have them taken down.

And I wish you would point out to me where the city is not allowed to restric campaign signs. City Code chapter 78, section 78-81 has some very specific restrictions:
Paragraph 1) itme a)"Political campaign signs not exceeding 50 percent..."
Paragraph 2) item f)No freestanding sign, including supports, shall extend more than five feet above the ground or be located closer than five feet to any property line.

I agree the wire signs are annoying, but not illegal, but I believe you could make an argument that posts dug into the ground, encased in gravel (note picture), may be more than temporary even though the intent is for them to be election only.

Today I received an email with this quote from the Girvan campaign "There have been large campaign signs there every election for years. ... The property owner has always given permission." She also stated that they have tried to use existing holes for her sign.

Apparently there has been a bit of a disconnect between the property owner and the management group. Messages have been left to see if I can find out the answer.

Bryan said...

I just spoke to the owner of the property who has confirmed that the current tenants have the authority to permit or deny capaigns the use of the yard. They have again requested that the yard not be used for this years campaign.

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