Northland News

Task force takes aim at 'litter on a stick'

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Northland's "sign ninjas" haven't been as busy as a hot election season might indicate.

"Right now, the counts have remained similar to this time last year, which is an improvement over two years ago, which was our first recorded year," Northland Community Council graphics task force coordinator William Logan said last week.

He predicted that by the end of the month, he and the volunteers who assist in the effort to keep public rights of way cleared of illegal postings will have removed between 300 and 400 signs.

"Which is similar to this time last year, which was nowhere near to the year prior, which was 1,937," Logan said. "We've whacked that number down by a fifth."

In part, Logan said, he thinks politicians, as well as those trying to sell mattresses, recruit youth sports participants and offering to buy houses, have simply come to realize that signs don't last long in public rights of way in the Northland area since the task force was launched.

In addition, he said people seeking office this time around were given advance warning.

"We here in Northland have contacted, to the best of our knowledge, by email and personal communication, each of the campaign offices that we're aware of and provided them written information regarding the law, which simply states that posting political signs in the public right way of way is an illegal act, basically a criminal act," Logan said. "We have had to remind a few political offices multiple times of that issue."

Interestingly and curiously, he added, those who have required the most reminding and whose campaigns have been among the most frequent violators "still appear to be the judges and at this point, our local county sheriffs."

"There's some irony there, considering they're the ones who are supposed to uphold the law," he said. "One would suspect they would know the law and abide by the law.

"We are proactively dealing with the issue, both in terms of communicating the problem and resolving the problem in the field by physical removal of the signs. My impression is ... the sign counts are down.

Along with the advance notice as well as the ongoing removal of illegally posted signs, a Facebook page has also been created to try to minimize the posting of what some have called "litter on a stick."

"What has become an accepted campaign-season tradition -- planting signs along highway medians, freeway exits and on street corners -- is, in fact, illegal," the page states. "It's illegal to post signs on public property. We see this each and every election taken the extreme. Help us end this nonsense. Take a photo of the illegal sign in its place, post the photo here, then remove the sign. Simple."

The page, The Rules: Campaign & Election Signs (and other signs!), also offers information about recyclable and biodegradable sign options.

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