Campaign signs like these for Eric Pickens for Sequim School Board are allowed in planting strips in Sequim city limits so long as the property owner approves of them in his/her right-of-way. Pickens is running for Director at-large No. 5 against Charles W. Smith III who said he dropped out for personal reasons but will remain on the ballot. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Campaign signs like these for Eric Pickens for Sequim School Board are allowed in planting strips in Sequim city limits so long as the property owner approves of them in his/her right-of-way. Pickens is running for Director at-large No. 5 against Charles W. Smith III who said he dropped out for personal reasons but will remain on the ballot. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

City shares campaign signs etiquette as complaints rise

MAT signs to remain up so long as property owner gives permission

City of Sequim staffers say they look to educate the public and candidates alike about political signs as they become more prevalent prior to the Nov. 5 General Election.

Alisa Hasbrouck, Department of Community Development specialist, said staff continually receive complaints about where political campaign signs are going with some in compliance and some not, particularly on private property without the owner’s permission.

“Sometimes it’s in the public right-of-way, but sometimes that doesn’t mean it’s out of compliance either,” Hasbrouck said.

Where can signs go?

According to the Sequim Municipal Code, campaign signs can be placed on a landscaped area or parking strip of a property where the property owner controls and maintains the area, including right-of-way.

City staff said signs can go on the city’s right-of-way within the planter strip between the curb and sidewalk. Permission is required of the property owner or from his/her agent, however.

Where can’t signs go?

The city’s code states political signs cannot go within street medians, roundabouts or in right-of-way areas not maintained by the adjacent property owner.

Signs also can’t obstruct sidewalks, streets or the triangle at intersections. They can’t go on City of Sequim properties except in its planter strips.

Sign removal

Lisa Hopper, the City of Sequim’s code compliance officer, said she hasn’t removed any political signs this election cycle. Rather than removing, Hopper said she looks to have candidates or property owners to come into compliance.

“I encourage (property owners) to remove them (if they haven’t given permission),” she said.

“Every sign is supposed to have contact information on it.”

Hopper said she has removed one sign against the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic at the request of the property owner because it was placed on the property without permission. She contacted the group Save Our Sequim, returned the sign and provided a copy of the city’s sign code.

Hopper said she doesn’t plan to treat the MAT signs like campaign signs, however. She said they must have permission of each property owner but said they can stay up because it’s not a political candidate sign.

Typically, campaign signs must be removed within 14 days of the election unless there’s a runoff election, and then those signs can stay up 14 days after the runoff election.

Under the city’s code, “Political campaign signage” means “Signs advertising an existing or potential ballot issue upon which residents of Sequim may be eligible to vote.”

Hopper said she’s focusing more on nuisance issues as of late, but will pull campaign signs if there’s a public safety hazard.

More on signs

According to city code, no parcel can have more than 32 square feet of campaign signage.

Permitting is not required for campaign signs.

Candidates with signs must have “publicly declared their intent to run for office or have filed with the appropriate authority to seek office.”

Initiative signage is allowed so long as there is “an ongoing drive to collect signatures to place the initiative on a ballot or if the initiative has been filed with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office or county auditor’s office.”

What to do with a sign?

City staff said campaign signs that don’t meet the city’s sign code will be removed and held for pickup at the Public Works Shop, 169 W. Hemlock St., which is open 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

With issues on or to inquire about campaign signs, call Hasbrouck with the Sequim Department of Community Development at 360-683-4908 or 360-582-2454, or Hopper via the Sequim Police Department at 360-683-7227.

Read more on the city’s sign code under chapter 18.58 at codepublishing.com/WA/Sequim/.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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