Water district: remove illegal signs

Volunteers posted scores of signs on chain-link fences along

Political signs that cluttered almost every available chain-link
fence weeks ago have become more scarce as the Nov. 2 election
Political signs that cluttered almost every available chain-link fence weeks ago have become more scarce as the Nov. 2 election approaches.

A key reason is the owners of public rights-of-way along highly trafficked streets and flood control channels have formally asked candidates to obey the law or pay to have their placards removed.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District mailed a letter to all candidates running for state, regional and local offices throughout the county, asking them to remove their signs from all water district property before Oct. 13. The letter said if the signs were not removed by that day,the agency’s field crews would begin cleaning them up and sending the candidates an invoice for the work and disposal costs involved.

That letter was mailed to candidates Oct. 5, and was signed by water district CEO Beau Goldie. The letter was inspired by news reports and complaints.

“We’ve gotten so many complaints about the blight (caused by political signs),” water district government relations manager Rick Callender said.

Starting Oct. 13, water district staff instructed field crews to begin removing signs from water district properties when they ran across them in the course of regular maintenance, Callender said.

No invoices have been sent to candidates yet, and the water district has not issued a work order solely to look for and remove political signs because to do so would be inefficient, Callender said.

Popular spots for the political signs on water district property have included along Llagas Creek west of Monterey Road, especially on chain-link fences where the creek passes underneath city streets.

Similar fences on the east side of Butterfield Boulevard, at the intersections of San Pedro, Main and Dunne avenues were plastered with signs earlier in the campaign season. Those properties are owned by the city, though the fences have become nearly bare since the water district mailed its Oct. 5 letter.

City staff has also reminded candidates of the rules for posting of political signs on public property, city manager Ed Tewes said. The municipal code regulating temporary political signs says that no signs can be placed without a permit on public property – including rights-of-way on public streets and the “parking strip” between the sidewalk and curb on such streets.

The city is still unlikely to strictly enforce the code, as Tewes said earlier this month that city hall does not have the resources to enforce all violations of the ordinance.

Political signs placed on high-use public properties, such as parks and the city hall campus, will be removed by city staff, Tewes said.

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