Political Signs Blossom Across The Acadiana Landscape
Like "magic mushrooms" blossoming out of a steaming pile of cow poop in a pasture so have sprung this year's crop of political signs across South Louisiana. We all knew "the crop" was about to come in as soon as qualifying was completed earlier this month. Now, you can't pass hardly any well-traveled intersection or lonely rural roadside without being asked to consider a particular candidate or ideology.
Political signs are necessary. I won't say a necessary evil because they do convey ideas and issues that should be important to everyone who lives and works in our community. I do support the rights of candidates and political movers and shakers to get their message out. However, the signs do get to be a nuisance when they've overstayed their welcome, that's for sure.
So, where and when can you put a political sign out?
Based on what my less than legal mind was able to ascertain via Lafayette's not-written-for-the-common-man sign ordinance(s). Here are the stipulations:
First, what is a political sign? Well, it falls under the category of temporary signs as defined by Lafayette Consolidated Government this way.
A sign that is constructed of cloth, canvas, cardboard, wallboard, or other light temporary materials, with or without a structural frame, intended for a temporary period of display. Examples include placards for public demonstrations, real estate signs, election signs, construction signs, or signs that advertise a grand opening, festival, state or local fair, or cattle or horse show.
When can these signs be displayed?
Temporary signs advertising a One-Time Event shall not be erected more than ninety (90) days prior to the initiation of the One-Time Event and shall be removed within ten (10) days following the termination of the One-Time Event.
LCG counts elections as one time events just like a rodeo but with more bull droppings. To me, it is confusing as to when the 90 days start. Does the clock start in advance of qualifying or only after a candidate has officially qualified? Personally, I read the ordinances and I am not sure. I do know that ten days after the October election anyone who didn't make a runoff needs to pull their sign.
I do know that political signs are not allowed on the public right of way. They must be placed on private property and the candidate must have permission from the property owner to place the sign on that property.
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development officials say political signs are not allowed on state right of way either.
If a sign is observed in our DOTD right-of-way, we will remove them. If there’s an apparent monetary value to the sign, like those large signs, we will make an effort to reach out to the owner of that sign to try to give them an opportunity to pick it up.
Tammy York of LaDOTD made those comments to KPLC TV in a story published on their website. I do think it's nice of the LaDOTD to call a candidate if they are about to trash a big sign. Running for office is expensive enough without having your campaign items trashed.
So what have we learned about political signs? Candidates need them to get their messages out. Candidates are restricted as to where their signs may be placed. There are time limits for the signs to be displayed. A candidate has ten days after the election to get his or her sign picked up.
I am sure all of these ordinances and regulations will be observed with the same ferocity that the NO PARKING ZONE in front of Little Ceasers is observed. In other words, we will all whine about it but nobody really wants to be troubled with actually doing something about it.