The Answers Issue: Are politicians allowed to put so many signs on lampposts?

Why doesn’t DDOT or DPW enforce the city’s sign regulations when it comes to the overabundance of political campaign signs on lampposts?

The District’s lampposts are covered in signs this election season, with at least three of the eight mayoral campaigns slapping their logos up around town. What you see as overabundance, though, doesn’t get fined for a reason: It’s almost all legal.

District Department of Transportation regulations allow a campaign to post three signs on one side of the street per block, meaning that any one candidate could take over six lampposts on one street. That’s a lot of signs to post without violating any rules. If anybody is exceeding the limit, they aren’t getting punished for it—a Department of Public Works spokeswoman couldn’t find any evidence of fines being issued in the past year over campaign signs.

Things could soon get more complicated for the District’s sign posters. Under proposed new regulations, anyone using equipment to hang a sign would need a permit. That could spell trouble for people hoping to run their campaigns like mayoral hopeful Jack Evans, whose signs get their high vantage points with the use of ladders.

Our Readers Say

Some points from the law that Will left out when he declared political signs "almost all legal":

1) "108.7 Each sign, advertisement, or poster shall contain the date upon which it was initially affixed to a lamppost." - I'd wager that not a damn sign up there has such a date on it. By that measure alone, almost all the signs up there are illegally posted and subject to fines.

2) "108.9 Signs, advertisements, and posters shall not be affixed by adhesives that prevent their complete removal from the fixture, or that do damage to the fixture." - Most campaigns affix their signs to the poles with duct tape or packaging tape. This tape is often left behind when the signs are torn down, and if the tape IS torn off, it very often tears paint off the poles as well, leading to accelerated rusting. This is another way that most of the political signs are not following the law.

3) "108.11 Within twenty-four (24) hours of posting each sign, advertisement, or poster, two (2) copies of the material shall be filed with an agent of the District of Columbia so designated by the Mayor. The filing shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the originator of the sign, advertisement, or poster." - This is vague and poorly written, but I'd argue that one could say this means that the location of each and every sign must be registered with city government. You could probably argue something different, but the bottom line is that campaigns likely aren't letting the city know one bit about where signs are being placed.

Bottom line, I totally disagree that the political signs up around town are "almost all legal." It's just that, like so many other things, the city doesn't police it's own laws, and looks the other way as long as you're not killing someone.
Candidate Andy Shallal's signs are missing the authority line... and should all be removed!

Jeffrey Slavin
To both of the previous commenters, you missed the next section of the code:

“Political campaign posters of registered candidates need not be filed with the Public Space Permit Office. However,such posters must be removed no later than thirty (30) days following the general election.”

The violation on lampposts and street signs I see the most is oversaturation of a block with more than 3 signs, violating:

No more than three (3) versions or copies of eachsign may be affixed on one (1) side of the street within one (1) block.

I also see the wire frame signs all over the public space, when they are only legal in private space.

I am attaching a link to an MPD pdf about signs in public space.

I thought the new regulations were in response to Jim Graham's use of city contractor MC Dean to install his campaign signs in 2010 using their truck lifts while they had the streetlight maintenance contract and Graham had committee oversight of DDOT
Huzzah, IMGoph! Fight the good fight!

@JustMe the reg you posted doesn't negate 108.7 or 108.9.

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