Placards a bad sign

Some council members point to signs on the northeast corner of

Decorated with garlic bulbs and catchy slogans, the political
signs for this election cycle’s candidates have brightened Gilroy’s
landscape with a rainbow of color. And unfortunately, many of them
are posted illegally.
Decorated with garlic bulbs and catchy slogans, the political signs for this election cycle’s candidates have brightened Gilroy’s landscape with a rainbow of color. And unfortunately, many of them are posted illegally.

“I think it’s worse than I’ve ever seen,” said Councilman Perry Woodward.

According to the 14 pages in the City of Gilroy’s zoning ordinance that address the placement of signs, political signs or placards shall not be placed on any portion of a street, sidewalk or public right-of-way.

Signs can only be posted within the 90-day time period before Election Day, and must be taken down within 10 days of the election, said City Administrator Tom Haglund.

Additionally, the ordinance prohibits signs from being attached to a fence along the right-of-way of a public thoroughfare.

Several current council members pointed to the intersection of Monterey Road and Luchessa Avenue as a particularly cluttered corner. City Council candidates Art Barron, Peter Leroe-Muñoz and Russ Valiquette have affixed signs to the fence at the northeast corner of the intersection.

“They didn’t read the rules,” said Councilman Craig Gartman.

But now that he’s running his third campaign, Valiquette said he knows where his signs can be.

“That fence has been used by every person that ever sat on the council,” he said.

The way he understood the sign ordinance, signs can be fastened to fences as long as they are authorized by the owner of the fence, he said.

“If that’s not right, if it’s a misinterpretation, I have no problem taking it down,” he said.

Historically, the fence in question is notorious for collecting signs, said Code Enforcement Officer Scott Barron.

According to the zoning ordinance addressing signs on fences, “they should not be putting their signs on that fence,” Barron said.

However, code enforcement typically responds to complaints and has not received any concerning that particular fence, he said.

Fines range from $100 for the first violation to $500 on the third, he said.

Although each council candidate received a copy of the city’s rules regarding signs when he registered with City Clerk Shawna Freels, Barron acknowledged the rules governing placement of signs “is a little bit complicated.”

The point of the rules pertaining to placement of political signs is to prevent just the type of campaign advertising that has proliferated all over the city, Gartman said.

“Public property is not to be used for people’s personal gains,” he said.

Though it appears that some candidates, including those running for county offices and seats on the local school board, are not experts on the zoning ordinance, city council candidates said they would be happy to remove any signs that were out of compliance.

“I’ll have to review the ordinance,” Art Barron said when asked about the campaign sign attached to the fence at Monterey and Luchessa. “Any signs that are illegal, I’ll take down.”

Other than receiving an e-mail from a resident reporting a misplaced lawn sign, Leroe-Munoz said he hadn’t received feedback that any of his signs were placed illegally.

“Every once in a while, we will make a mistake but it’s something we’re trying to avoid,” he said. “We don’t want to irritate people. We just want to get the message out.”

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