STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
The Outdoor Circle plans to fight against what it believes is visual pollution caused by a proliferation of political signs. A fence across from Waipahu High School is shown here.
Proliferation of signs for campaigns is legal
: I'm already seeing politicians' signs up at prominent corner locations. Isn't it a little early? What are the rules for when political signs can be posted?
Answer: It is early, but not illegal.
There used to be a state law that restricted political signs to 45 days before an election and 10 days after.
But in 1996, the state Attorney General's Office issued an opinion saying it was unconstitutional to set limits on political signs on private property. The state Legislature subsequently repealed the law.
Aaron Schulaner, a deputy attorney general, previously told us that if a political or campaign sign is on private property and no other law is being violated, there's nothing to prevent the signs from being kept up indefinitely (Kokua Line, Nov. 29, 2004).
However, the Outdoor Circle is not going to allow what it believes is visual pollution caused by a proliferation of political signs to go on without a fight. It also wants the previous durational limit re-enacted.
During the 2004 election year, Outdoor Circle President Mary Sterner said many candidates put up their signs too early and left them up too long. At that time, she said her organization hoped to "help bring some sanity to the campaign sign issue before the next election."
The Outdoor Circle considers 2004 one of the worst years ever "for the polluting of Hawaii's visual environment by political signs," Bob Loy, the organization's director of environmental programs, said last week.
Based on the number of complaints it has received, as well as the results of a recent poll it requested, the Outdoor Circle believes many Hawaii residents also "are fed up with their neighborhoods being turned into battle zones where political war is waged with campaign signs," he said.
He was asked what the organization was doing this election year to achieve the "sanity" Steiner referred to.
The Outdoor Circle had hoped that the Legislature would have placed restrictions on signs "expressing a viewpoint on any issue or on any candidate for election" via House Bill 2705 this year.
However, the bill, which would have restricted the size of campaign signs, as well as where and when they could be posted on residential property, was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Loy said.
He said the proposed restrictions were patterned after laws in other cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Despite the failure of the bill to pass, Loy said the Outdoor Circle will be asking candidates to abide by the proposed restrictions anyway.
"As the campaign season approaches, we hope all candidates will challenge each other to respect the beauty of our islands and the sanctity of our neighborhoods by pledging to follow these restrictions," he said.
Among the proposed restrictions: Campaign signs can be no larger than 4 feet by 2 feet, with a maximum of 16 square feet of campaign signs per property.
As in the previous law that was ruled unconstitutional, the organization is asking that signs be posted no earlier than 45 days before an election and no more than 10 days after.
It hopes public opinion will help spur candidates to cut back on their signs.
Loy provided us with figures from a "scientific poll" of 524 Hawaii residents, conducted by Ward Research, that looked into political signs and other issues.
In response to the statement, "In the last election, the uncontrolled placement of political campaign signs created an unacceptable amount of visual pollution in our islands," 39 percent said they "strongly agree" and 33 percent said they "somewhat agree."
Five percent said they "strongly disagree," 15 percent "somewhat disagree," and 7 percent said they didn't know.
In response to the statement, "Hawaii needs to enact legislation that limits campaign signs and reduces their impact on the visual environment, 48 percent said they "strongly agree" and 28 percent, "somewhat agree."
Eight percent said they "strongly disagree," 12 percent, "somewhat disagree," and 5 percent said they didn't know.
The poll has a margin of error of 4.3 percent, Loy said. He also said the figures don't tally to exactly 100 percent because they were rounded out.
Got a question or complaint?
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