City warns candidates about use of political signs

September 28, 2011 5:29:55 PM PDT
You usually see them everywhere during a campaign year, signs telling you which candidate you should vote for. But Houston's mayor says those signs and others are costing the city thousands of dollars, so the city plans to crack down on them.

Campaign signs are OK in your backyard, but the ones that pop up in random place all over the city are the ones that Mayor Annise Parker says need to stop.

From utility poles along highways and in Houston streets, Eric Dick's campaign signs are impossible to miss, and he admits, they're not always legally posted.

"Every campaign puts out illegal signs," he said. "I don't encourage it. I don't put it out myself."

But it doesn't matter who posted the signs. Parker says the city spends $450,000 a year removing bandit signs from city rights of way and that's got to stop.

"Enough is enough. We're going to crack down, and we are going to be sending a notice out to all of the campaigns reminding them that this is already in city ordinance," Parker said.

In the letter being sent to all candidates, the city says once notified, campaigns have 24 hours to remove illegally placed signs or they'll be issued a citation, and the city could even file suit in court.

"Campaign season is when the signs mushroom, and it's been on my to-do list for a while," Parker said.

While campaign signs make up the majority of the problem, other advertising signs also add to the blight. Parker says property owners who find signs on their fences or utility poles they own can contact the city and trespassing charges could be filed.

But for Dick, who is running for an at-large City Council seat, he remains unapologetic about his signs and says it's just a way for Mayor Parker to reign in her opposition.

"I think she's looking for a way to fine those that oppose her views. There have been tons of campaign signs, campaign signs are the nature of politics," Dick said.

As we get closer to November, more signs likely will still go up, but once you report the illegally placed signs, the city will notify the campaign responsible for it.

The Eric Dick campaign signs located on 101 West Gray are legally placed.

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