City advises city, county and state candidates to know the city code before they erect signs

GARY ALLEN - Election signs are popping up everywhere as the November general election looms. Under city code they may be displayed on private property with the owner's permission and in other places with some restrictions. When the election is over they must be removed within 14 days.

The November general elections are quickly approaching and cities typically have in place regulations saying that candidate signs, among other stipulations, can't employ flashing lights or rotating parts in fear they will distract drivers.

And while it's rare to see electronic or animated candidate signs, a quick drive down any major street in Newberg demonstrates that few of the other regulations are adhered to.

The city of Newberg has its own sign regulations, specifically designating where they are and are not allowed to be placed. There are regulations as to what kind of signs are allowed, their size and how close to the street they can be installed. The code can be a bit confusing because it also encompasses non-political signs and must take into consideration what is written on the sign as well.

"There is in increase in the number of temporary signs that go up during election events and I have found that the additional signs are generally in compliance with the city code," code compliance officer Brian Corn said. "Many of the complaints I receive are due to a lack of understanding or incorrectly assuming a lot is on public property."

Corn explained that signs cannot be placed on public property, except for signs placed by a public agency.

"The exception to this is per (city code)," Corn said. "But most signs that pop up during election events do not conform too many of the requirements that allow signs to be placed in the right-of-way. This provision is generally for the A-frame signs you see downtown."

However, election signs are considered temporary, are not attached permanently to the ground and do not require a permit. An election a sign can be placed on a lot or property 90 days before the election and must be removed within 14 days after the election.

Election signs can be placed on private property only. They cannot be placed in the public right-of-way, which includes the sidewalk, planter strip (the area between the sidewalk and road if the sidewalk isn't directly up against the curb), nor the street. A lot cannot contain more than two temporary signs and cannot exceed 12 square feet in total area for both signs, unless the property is on a corner lot where there are two street frontages. Therefore, a person with a corner lot can place four signs, two on each frontage (not to exceed 12 square feet in total area). Additionally, a sign may not be located within three feet of a fire hydrant.

Downtown Newberg is a different story.

Because Hancock Street is also a stretch of Highway 99W, temporary signs are not allowed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, except within the stretch between College and Main streets. They are also not allowed within any road right-a-way administered by Yamhill County.

"Could you imagine a high profile sign like a big tower sign in the downtown area and the sign criteria is a little bit different in the downtown area and that is why it is in scale," associate planner Keith Leonard said. "You don't see any of these high profile signs and stuff like that."

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