Don’t Remove Lingering Political Signs from Medians

by Katie Pyzyk November 20, 2012 at 10:35 am 7,250 54 Comments

Despite the fact that the election was two weeks ago, some political signs still have been spotted in public spaces around town in recent days. That’s against county code, but residents are being told to report, not remove rogue campaign signs.

Per code, all political signs were to be removed from the public right of way (such as road medians) by the campaigns within five days after the election. Those that remain are subject to confiscation by county staff. Residents who notice lingering signs are asked not to remove them; the signs are to be removed only by the organization that originally placed them, or by county zoning staff.

The regulations are part of the larger sign ordinance, which has been revamped this year. Audrey Clement, who ran for County Board as a Green Party candidate, spoke at the Board meeting on Saturday (Nov. 17) to complain about the lack of enforcement for the sign rules. Clement pointed out that leading up to the election, no more than two signs are to be placed in a public space. She reported to have sometimes seen “six to a median.” Clement also said she went around the county to remove her own signs after the election.

“Given the level of abuse, what is the point of wasting countless hours of community and staff time to revise an ordinance that the county itself ignores?” said Clement. “If the losers uphold the law, why can’t the winners enforce it?”

Board member Jay Fisette noted that candidates at the federal level would probably be less likely to know Arlington’s ordinances, but said they should have been informed of the regulations. He said Clement’s concern was warranted.

“Whether they’re federal, state or local candidates, the county should be enforcing them,” Fisette said.

Not all signs in Arlington fall within the county’s authority, however. Campaign signs along VDOT-maintained roads are subject to enforcement and removal by the state.

County staff has been removing signs they see or that are reported along county roads. Anyone who wants to report a political sign in violation of the ordinance may call code enforcement at 703-228-3232. The county is encouraging residents who wish to dispose of a political sign on their own personal property to recycle it.

File photo

  • A lot easier to just remove them than report them.

    • Josh S

      Yeah, absolutely. Why are citizens discouraged from removing the signs? I can see why you wouldn’t *encourage* us to do so, but why actively discourage it? Makes no sense.

      • Ballston

        Maybe the county fines those candidates that don’t remove their signs? Plus they don’t want you being hit by a car when you’re walking in the median to remove the signs

        • CrystalMikey


        • drax

          I thought of that too – but if someone else removes their signs, why would you want to fine them? The signs get taken down either way. That’s the point, not punishing them for not doing it themselves.

        • bman

          I prefer to drive up and onto the median and run the signs over.

      • John Fontain


      • WeiQiang

        I’d say that it’s a safety thing. Medians are, well, in the middle of the roadways. That means crossing thoroughfares, possibly without crosswalks. There could be a motivation to fine the campaigns, but the safety issue clearly predominate IMO.

        • drax

          If it were a safety thing, wouldn’t they ban putting the signs up in the first place?

          • WeiQiang

            ahead of the election, i’d surmise that free-speechification was more important. it should be a safety thing. who knows what the actual motivation is.

        • ArlingtonWay

          Safety? Nah. It’s the fee they want to charge those campaigns who don’t remove their signs. The county has no problem with scores of fake homeless grofters panhandling from medians at intersections all over north Arlington. With these guys it’s always about the revenue.

          • Oz

            Sorry to repeat you, AW – great minds think alike!

        • Oz

          So, the county wants to protect citizens from going into the median to pull up signs, but won’t do anything about the panhandlers in the medians, and lets the fire fighters put their lives at risk (and block traffic) to “fill the boot?”

          Leave the signs, report them, county removes the signs and fines the campaign accordingly.

      • Captain_Obvious

        its more complicated than that.

        • ACDC Hack

          +10….good one !!!

        • Josh S

          How so?

          • Captain_Obvious

            its just complicated…that’s all.

          • sunflower

            new meme…

  • C.J.

    So what you are saying, is that rather than do the community a favor and pick up trash, call the police on those that litter? Pick up the trash, then report. Then we’ve got a clean community, and the regulators still get to do something.

  • NoVapologist

    So the county policy is, “if candidates don’t remove their old signs, we will punish them by using county resources to remove the signs for them.” Brilliant.

    • Josh S

      In an effort to make some small dent in my reputation—–

      I agree with this bashing of the county’s actions / policy.

  • Swag

    “Per code, all political signs were to be removed from the public right of way (such as road medians) by the campaigns within five days after the election. Those that remain are subject to confiscation by county staff. ”

    So in other words just leave them and the county will clean them up for you? Must be nice to be a politician.

  • Sam the Cat

    Excellent – something else to pave the road with other than good intentions.

  • drax

    Just ignore this. Take down the signs if you want. Nobody will complain. If somebody from the county happens to come along, tell them you’re with the campaign. If he asks you why you’re removing signs from more than one campaign, tell them you’re a political moderate.

    • Captain_Obvious

      got it, break county code and lie to officials, brilliant !

      • Josh S

        What county code is being violated in this scenario?

        • Captain_Obvious

          I don’t know, but the article says its against county code.

          • drax

            It’s complicated.

          • Josh S

            The article says it’s against county code to leave up signs, not take them down.

          • Captain_Obvious

            “the signs are to be removed only by the organization that originally placed them, or by county zoning staff.” Again, its complicated.

      • drax

        What can I say, I’m a rebel.

  • Brian K

    Someone in my neighborhood still has a “Romney-Believe in American” banner over his garage.

    I wonder if he knows the election is over, and America lost.

    • Scott

      If he’s looked at the stock market recently, he probably knows America lost.

      • drax

        You’re not serious, are you?

  • Westover Leftover

    Break out the cell phone take a picture of ALL illegal signs (even if you think it is illegal) and send it to:
    [email protected]
    Request a case be opened, and require updates on the case.
    Arlington County has passed a sign regulation that is not enforced and citizens are unable to prevent any illegal sign being installed.

    • Josh S

      Might there be better things for them to spend their time on?

    • TJ

      How much is it costing taxpayers PER SIGN to have county staff remove them? $100? $200? $500? More?

      • drax

        Probably about 2 cents per sign.

        You don’t actually believe it could be anywhere close to your numbers, do you?

  • Rick Gomez

    Not all signs in Arlington drop within the county’s power, however. Strategy signs along with political campaign stickers for streets and walls are topic to public by the condition. Whether they are government, condition or local applicants, the nation should be implementing them.

    • Josh S

      Google Translate?

      • drax

        I put this into Google Translate, converted it to Spanish, and then back to English:

        Not all ringing in Arlington drop in power in the region, however. Signs of strategy, along with political campaign stickers to the streets and walls are subject to the public by the disease. Whether government, local or asylum status, the nation must implement.

        • Hank

          Oddly, this makes more sense than the original post. You’ve done this forum a great service.

          • drax

            Don’t I always do this forum a great service?

  • g

    Can we burn them then?

  • Tre

    First world problems

  • Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Hurricane Sandy must have had to pay a lot of fines.

  • Callie

    I think political signs on public property should be banned, period. I am disinclined to vote for anyone whose signs litter roadway medians. They are an ugly nuisance. Also, a safety issue: some signs obstruct street sight-lines for oncoming traffic. Ban the damn things.

  • Tumblebum

    I disagree. All my voting decisions are based on median signs. Occasionally on bumper stickers but mostly median signs.


    Dr. Clement is right on this one.

    In addition to meaningful fines for abusers by the County, the political parties ought to insist their candidates plan for sign removal at the start of each campaign season. Candidates who post signs should sign commitments to remove them no later than the weekend after the election, win or lose.

  • Right of Center

    Perhaps removing signs will be PMoran’s community service punishment. Good thing he owns a scarf.

  • DriveByBlowTorch

    Nothing that can’t be handled by throwing lit cigarettes out the window of my speeding vehicle and hoping for the be(a)st.

  • ArlLawyer

    If someone illegally parks a car on the public right of way and you get into the car and drive it off, you have committed larceny. If someone illegally posts a sign on the public right of way and you pull it up and take it away, you have committed larceny. Just follow the law and report either of these violations to the proper authorities and you will be doing your good citizen duty.

    • Hmmm

      So you should report empty fast food bags on the sidewalk and not just throw them away ??

  • AR12

    Someone doing community service to remove them????at no cost to taxpayers…..????


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