Illegal campaign signs

Northland group's cleanup efforts inspire CAC


The Clintonville Area Commission may take a page out of the Northland Community Council's book, resulting in the removal of a whole lot of illegally posted signs from public rights of way during future elections.

At last week's monthly meeting of the NCC, graphics task force coordinator William Logan provided a primer on how to tamp down -- but probably not stamp out -- campaign signs and other signs from being placed where a city ordinance says they shouldn't be.

In the month leading up to Election Day, Logan said, he and his volunteers plucked roughly 400 signs -- most of them for candidates -- from the rights of way on major streets in the Northland area. That compares with more than 2,000 removed in the same period two years earlier, when the Northland task force was in its infancy.

"We feel we're making great strides," Logan said.

Clintonville Area Commission Chairman Dan Miller noted a recent story in The Columbus Dispatch that pointed out signs posted in rights of way are illegal under city ordinance -- and yet campaign volunteers do it all the time.

"It largely goes unenforced," he said.

Miller brought up the issue of illegal signs, he said, without the intention of passing a motion to establish a policy, but instead hoping to make it an issue the advisory panel considers in the future. He said he did so at the urging of former District 2 representative Sarah Snyder.

Snyder said the proliferation of campaign signs in Clintonville leading up to the election was an eyesore.

"It was getting to be just beyond out of control," she said.

"This is an aesthetic issue, a safety issue and it's also an environmental issue," she said. "Frankly, it's no different from garbage being left. It's abandoned property."

The Northland Community Council's graphics task force relies on the efforts of about 24 resident volunteers, Logan said. Some volunteers actively remove illegally posted signs, while others simply bring them to his attention for later removal.

In general, he said, a sign posted illegally along a major road in the Northland area lasts only about 24 hours.

Logan added he would be glad to assist the area commission in understanding what the NCC's task force does and how it operates, including safety training for volunteers.

"You need to know the law," Logan said. "You need to simply get organized and, quite frankly, you, as a community, need to clean it up.

"The city won't do it and the candidates won't do it. We choose to do it ourselves on a routine basis."

"I think this is something we need to look at," said Nancy Kuhel, the current CAC District 2 representative.

Also at last week's CAC meeting, the eight members present voted unanimously to create a crime and safety committee. The issue was brought up by District 7 representative Jason Meek, who was appointed chairman of the panel by Miller.

Meek, who said the removal of illegally posted signs might be something the crime and safety committee undertakes, pointed out this would re-establish efforts that took place under his predecessor in District 7, Dave Southan, who was the safety liaison for the CAC.

The purpose of the committee would be to facilitate communication between the city's safety forces and Clintonville's residents and business owners, Meek said.

While the members will help to define what the new committee undertakes, Meek said he envisions focusing on crosswalks, traffic problems and criminal activity.

"Education is the major solution, whether it's safety or crime issues," Meek said.