California Yard Sign Regulations

California State FlagOne 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:

  1. Your campaign signs must encourage a particular vote in a scheduled election.
  2. 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.
  3. Your yard sign can’t be more than 32 square feet.
  4. 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:

California Landscaped Freeways

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.

11 thoughts on “California Yard Sign Regulations

  1. Political signs in windows in Central Coast, CA, residential windows were displayed in October for the June election 8 months early. The HOA does not allow signs “within the property,” the county does not allow temporary political yard signs prior to 60 days before the election. The state does not allow political yard signs prior to 90 days before the election. Presumably, there is no limit to signs in windows and anyone may display any sign, including political signs, whenever they choose and for an infinite term. What is the applicable law?

  2. Does California have any regulations on the disposal of candidates yard signs?
    I see that the signs can be made of corrugated plastic now and laminated cardboard so are these types recycleable? Thank you!

    1. In terms of whether a sign must be recycled or not? No, there is no regulation on that to my knowledge.

      The polycoated cardboard, aka the laminated cardboard, is not recyclable since they are stuck together. You can recycle the plastic bag signs and the corrugated plastic signs.

    1. That’s a private business and their prerogative. May not good business, but it’s their place. I know my dentist heard it from me after he put a sign at his business a little bit until he numbed by face really good 🙂

  3. Want to know if it is ok to put a sign on HOA park.It was put out today voting day and is 100ft from a polling place.I am upset that it is on HOA property. Our HOA president is not home to contact.We want to take it down and lay on grass is that legal.Thank you for your help.

    1. Most HOAs are pretty hostile to yard signs, so I’m sure it will be taken down when you get a hold of someone from the board if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the rule in CA as to how far signs and other campaigning can happen from the polling place in CA, so it’s hard to say about the distance. 100 feet is usually within the distance allowed, so this is likely just about the HOA property.

  4. I had some signs placed on my property without my consent. Who do I call to report them? They were also placed on our church property, which is a serious problem for our church as well!

    1. Sorry I’m just seeing this now!

      World according to Ben, you just remove them and let by gones by gones. They were put on private property and the own of those properties have the ability to remove them.

  5. Does California law SPECIFICALLY address HOA restrictions or prohibitions on political signage? It seems that Calif Civil Code 1940.4 only addresses the landlord/tenant relationship — but NOT HOA.

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