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Election signs not going anywhere
by Jill Lufrano
Aug 10, 2012 | 1817 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Political election signs still dot the landscape across the Truckee Meadows despite no local elections since June.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Political election signs still dot the landscape across the Truckee Meadows despite no local elections since June.
SPARKS – Some political signs in the area have been posted for such a long time, with candidates’ faces smiling at passers-by, it’s easy to begin to believe they are just part of the landscape.

And, according to Washoe County Registrar of Voters Dan Burk, this practice is legal up until the General Election Nov. 6.

The only city in Washoe County to put any restrictions through the years on the amount of time a sign can be posted is the City of Sparks.

Cal Dunlap, a Reno lawyer running for District Court Judge, has had his signs up for so long, and has made his presence known in such a gigantic manner, it has raised some questions, Burk said.

“I can tell you that it does raise some questions,” Burk said. “It makes me wonder. Dunlap has had his signs up forever and they’re huge signs.”

This year, people are beginning to notice.

“I get a lot of calls from citizens who say why do we have all these signs up all over town?”

Even candidates who suffered losses during the primary elections, still have their faces posted throughout the hills and open spaces.

“This year seems pretty unusual,” Burk said. “There’s just a lot of them around. People are just not taking them down and they’re big signs. The county doesn’t have a lot to say, as long as the signs are not on county property at all.”

The National Highway System in Nevada does have rules as to where political signs can be placed within state highway right-of-ways.

“Please keep in mind that it is illegal to place signs within the right-of-way of state highways,” the rules state. “State highways include not only the well numbered rural routes but many county roads and city streets.”

Candidates can collect their signs from Nevada department of Transportation, which removes them when the signs are found to be in illegal areas. The signs can be put up on private property that is adjacent to a state highway no more than 60 days before a primary election and must be removed within 30 days after the primary election. Signs for candidates or questions for the general election ballot do not have to be removed until 30 days after the general election.

A permit is not required for small political signs that are placed on private property near the highway system.

Washoe County rules state that signs will be made of paper, cardboard, cloth, plastic or similar material of limited durability and displayed only until the scheduled event it advertises has happened, such as the primary election, and then the general election. NO sign is allowed to be more than 128-square-feet in size or more than 8-feet high.

All signs are allowed to be located more than 15 feet away from any public road.

The sign must be painted or attached flat against the exterior surface of a vehicle or trailer, stake racks or other standard vehicle accessories.

The sign cannot be illuminated and cannot contain letters or symbols which are manually replaceable in order that the copy can be easily changed from time to time.

Prohibited signs include those which are a hazard to traffic or pedestrians, located within any stream or channel, three-dimensional figures of humans or animals, produce odor, sound, smoke, flame or other emissions, imitate or simulate official signs or which use yellow or red blinking or intermittent lights resembling danger or warnings signals, strobe lights or bulbs, rays or projections and beams and can move.

The City of Sparks sends a letter to candidates outlining sign guidelines.

“The Sparks sign code does not regulate the size nor the number of temporary signs you may place on any property, but be aware that any ‘permanent’ type sign must comply with the City’s building Code and other requirements of Sparks’ sign code …” according to the letter.

Signs must be removed 10 days after the general election.

Burke said the City of Sparks changed their rules after the City Attorney brought up issues regarding First Amendment rights and how they related to political signs.

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