COSTA MESA : City Delays Vote on Campaign Sign Laws

The City Council this week postponed a decision that could change how political candidates stump for votes in Costa Mesa.

Up for consideration were several modifications to city laws that govern how and where campaign placards may be posted.

At the suggestion of the city attorney's office, the council looked at easing several restrictions, including throwing out a clause that forbids posting signs more than 30 days in advance of an election and extending to 10 days after an election the time allowed for candidates to remove their signs, not seven as currently allowed.

But the council decided to postpone its decision to give City Atty. Thomas Kathe more time to study the issue and consider including other changes suggested by resident Ernie Feeney.

Besides the proposal on the table, Feeney wants candidates to get written permission from residents to allow signs on their property and to file the permission form with the city.

The city attorney's office began studying sign laws in April after Candidates Outdoor Graphics Service, an El Monte company that makes and distributes signs for candidates, complained that the current code was unconstitutional.

During the city attorney's review, it was discovered that the restrictions might not hold up in court because political signs are considered a form of free speech and are protected by the First Amendment, officials said.

"We have found there are provisions that we feel are unenforceable," Kathe told the council Monday night.

Even if the changes are approved this month, they won't affect the June 2 primary election.

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