Yank political signs from city and state roadsides soon

November 9, 2010

By Staff

Relief is in sight for motorists tired of seeing signs touting Patty Murray, Dino Rossi and a host of other political candidates.

Though the ballot count continues, Election Day is history, and the deadline to yank political signs from along state highways and city streets looms.

Under state law, property owners must remove temporary political signs visible from state highways by Nov. 12.

Issaquah rules call for campaign signs to be removed within a week of Election Day, or Nov. 9. City Code Compliance Officer Michele Forkner started to round up rogue signs after the deadline passed.

Illegal signs can limit drivers’ sight distance and litter the roadside. Only signs used for traffic control can be used inside the state right of way. Use the following clues to help find a right of way:

Utility poles can typically be found inside the right of way, so no signs can be added between the pole and the state highway.

Many locations also have a fence line separating the right of way from private property, so no signs can be added between the fence and the state highway.

Can political yard signs be recycled?

Though many people consider political yard signs to be a form of visual pollution, after Election Day, the plastic placards can turn into physical pollution, too.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson — the countywide “green” guru — has some suggestions to keep discarded signs out of the trash heap at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Issaquah.

Though manufacturers claim corrugated plastic signs are recyclable, no local haulers accept the material.

So, Watson offered some practical suggestions to reuse the plastic rectangles. The sturdy material can be used to fashion DIY bicycle fenders and other gear. Watson said old signs turned out to be source material for bike gear in the days after the 2008 election.

Or the signs could be painted and reused to advertise garage sales and other community events. For incumbents and perennial candidates, of course, the placards could be stored until the next election.

Use the metal and wooden sign stakes in the garden or in home-improvement projects. Or the stakes can be composted as clean wood waste or recycled as scrap metal through many residential programs.

Get involved

The state Department of Transportation has asked for campaign signs to be removed from state rights of way. E-mail Outdoor Advertising Specialist Pat O’Leary at olearyp@wsdot.wa.gov or call 360-705-7296 to determine boundary lines. Be prepared to provide the state route number and the name of the nearest intersection or milepost.

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