One of the simplest but most costly mistakes your campaign can make is being ignorant of California’s sign laws. Your campaign must file a statement of responsibility, which means if your campaign puts signs out too early, places them on landscaped highways, or otherwise violates California’s sign laws, the candidate, campaign manager, or whoever is on the state of responsibility will be billed for their removal.
Throw some negative press on top of the financial cost, and you can see why being aware of and following the state’s campaign sign laws is non-negotiable. Get it right and, heck, be on the look out for your opponent to mess up.
California Sign Laws
Political signs are unlike any other normal outdoor advertising displays in California. Section 5405.3 of the State Outdoor Advertising Act exempts political signs from rules that impact other “for sale” signs, business signs, and other types of signs. Your sign, however, must meet certain requirements for it to fit into the state’s definition of a political sign, so be sure your sign meets the following criteria:
- Your campaign signs must encourage a particular vote in a scheduled election.
- You can’t post the sign more than 90 days prior to the election and you must remove the sign within 10 days following the election.
- Your yard sign can’t be more than 32 square feet.
- You must file a Statement of Responsibility with the Department of Encourages a particular vote in a schedule election.
Send your completed Statement of Responsibility must be submitted to:
Division of Traffic Operations
Outdoor Advertising Program
P.O. Box 942874, MS-36
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
Once you design and order an election sign that meets California’s requirements for a political sign, there a few other things to keep in mind. Be sure that you don’t post signs within the right of way of any highway or be visible within 660 feet from the edge of the right of way of a classified landscaped freeway. If you do, the Department of Transportation will remove the sign, call the person who has certified that they are responsible for your campaign signs, and bill them for the removal of those signs. To keep your campaign safe, check out this list of landscaped freeways and keep your signs off of them:
Municipal Sign Laws
Just like New York state, local governments can and do have additional restrictions on the placement of yard signs and on the signs themselves. Some of the most common local signs ordinances include restrictions on the size and shape of campaign yard signs, the time frame that private property owners can display signs on their lawn and in the municipal authority’s right-of-way.
New York City, for example, has significant penalties for sign violations:
Signs found in violation of building and zoning regulations are subject to fines and forced removal. Penalties for first time offences are $10,000 each and subsequent violations are $25,000 each.
Each illegal sign is ordinarily issued multiple violations for infractions against various zoning and code provisions.
Many times, enforcement is the strongest during campaign season because there are often candidates who aren’t familiar with the regulations and, therefore, violate them on a large scale and because of resident complaints. In May 2013, for example, recently stepped up enforcement in light of resident complaints. In May 2013, for example, Charlene Wagner voiced her concern before the Quality of Life committee that there were illegally placed commercial and political signs littering Staten Island, which resulted in stepped up enforcement.
If you got what you were looking for some this post, would you please add a link to this page on your site or share it on social media, so that you can keep your fellow candidates and politicos on the right side of California’s campaign sign regulations as well?
Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney nor do I play one on TV. This is not legal advice or opinion. It’s simply a collection of information that I have been able to gather from online and offline sources and have applied to political campaigns.