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Council motion requires political signs in Oak Harbor gone by Nov. 20

Politicians have until Nov. 20 to remove their signs from roadsides in Oak Harbor.

Last Wednesday, the city council unanimously, with a member absent, approved an amendment to the city’s code regarding temporary signs in order to correct a First Amendment problem.

The amendment makes a distinction between political and campaign signs, the latter of which can have more restrictions.

Even so, the amendment deletes a provision that set a limit on the amount of time before an election that a candidate can put up campaign signs.

It extends the time to two weeks that a candidate has to take down signs after an election.

The issue goes back to when Mayor Scott Dudley was a city councilman running for the mayoral seat.

He was contacted by the city’s code enforcement officer for putting up campaign signs earlier than allowed by city code.

But then the city attorney warned that the code infringed on free speech, so the city’s planning commission took up the work of amending the code.

At the meeting, Councilwoman Tara Hizon made it clear that she feels the signs aren’t aesthetically pleasing.

“I can’t wait for those suckers to come down,” she said.

Hizon said she felt the old code was fair and that the restriction on displays of campaign signs to 60 days before the election was more than enough time.

Still, she wasn’t against the amendment.

In answer to questions, Senior Planner Ethan Spoo explained that the amendment didn’t change the code regarding garage-sale signs. He said they aren’t allowed on public property, but are “theoretically” allowed on private property.

In addition, he explained the amendment specifies that people waving signs on sidewalks or the side of the road, like the dancing pizza people, are allowed.

Spoo said the amendment also switched around the rules regarding businesses placing A-frame signs on sidewalks.

Previously, it was allowed everywhere in the city except the downtown Pioneer Way area.

Now they are only allowed on Pioneer Way.

 

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