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Campaign Sign Controversy in San Luis Obispo County

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - The June primary election is just over a month away and campaign signs are popping up in places some say is not allowed.

We obtained an email sent to the candidates by the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department last week. In that email, the  department says it has received numerous complaints about campaign signs along county roads and candidates should remove them.

"It seems that every time we have an election, we have volunteers who get very energetic and want to put their signs up everywhere," said Frank Honeycutt, Development Services Division Manager with County Public Works. "Then we run into the problem with some of those are put in the right-of-way."
State and county codes don't allow campaign signs to be placed within the public right-of-way. By law, the county can remove them.

"Right-of-way would be any county road. It would include the sidewalks, particularly intersections," said Honeycutt. "It would include things like power poles, signal poles."

The Public Works Department says this issue pops up before most elections.
"Over the years, we found the most effective method is to contact the candidates and ask them to remove their sign," said Honeycutt. "That has turned out to be the best way, the most compliant."

The department says dealing with this recurring issue is a balancing act between ensuring road safety and also protecting the right to free speech.

"If we see anything that's an immediate road hazard, we'll remove them without notice," said Honeycutt. "We try to protect the road safety primarily, but we also want everybody to speak during election."

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