Political signs are meant to grab your attention during an election. Illegally placed signs become litter in Edmond’s roadways, said Bill Fitzgerald, the city’s head of code enforcement.
Edmond city ordinances do not regulate the location of political signs except they cannot be placed in the street right-of-way or easements or affixed to any utility pole, utility structure, tree, traffic control device or warning sign in the street right-of-way or easements.
City ordinance gives candidates three days from the end of an election to collect campaign signs outside of a right-of-way. Political signs can be on private property and are not removed by the city. They are never allowed between a sidewalk and a street, Fitzgerald said.
“They’re in center medians or they’re in street right-of-ways right behind curbs, which is a safety issue for pedestrians,” Fitzgerald said.
Children will pull them up to throw into traffic. Gusts of winds will blow the signs into driving lanes, he said.
Nearly 1,800 illegally placed political signs were removed from April to June by code enforcement, Fitzgerald said. More than 2,400 code-breaking signs have been removed since January, and 3,414 removed for the fiscal year. Three or four officers at a cost of $26 each are typically assigned to remove the political signs.
“We’ll have three or four people out there doing it, and we’ll do it four hours at the end of our shift,” he said. “So you’re talking about $100 a day.”
The city’s former policy of returning the signs to the candidates changed after a little detective work of marked signs revealed that code enforcement officers were picking up the same signs repeatedly. So now the signs are taken to an obscure dumpster for breaking city, county, state and federal laws.
“The dollars you and I give a candidate for a campaign contribution — this is what they’re doing with them,” he said. These signs generally cost $2.50 to more than $3 apiece, depending the amount purchased, he said.
“If the candidate wants their signs back, they get to go to the Oklahoma City land fill, I guess,” Fitzgerald said.
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