When campaign signs go bad


The Mirror

A flap over the inappropriate placement of campaign signs in Federal Way has resulted in the removal of about a dozen.

City code prohibits campaign signs anywhere on private property, compliance officer Martin Nordby said.

“They can’t be in the public right-of-way, but we kind of stretch it a bit because sometimes you can’t tell,” he said. “If they’re behind a curb, gutter, sidewalk and utility poles, we usually call it good.”

The city doesn’t regulate what’s on political signs — there aren’t any rules related to fonts, sizes or colors — as long as they’re not on public property and they’re no bigger than six square feet. And the police don’t issue citations for sign violations; that’s the code compliance officers’ job.

Nordby said he doesn’t patrol for offending signs, but he’ll pull them if he sees something “really obvious,” like on a utility pole.

Because there are only two code compliance officers in the city, Nordby said looking for sign violations — particularly during campaign season — isn’t the best use of the officers’ time.

Nordby said he doesn’t give people citations for violations of the campaign sign code — “You give people the benefit of the doubt,” he said — but once the signs are pulled, candidates can only get them back for a cost: $7 for the first sign and $5 for any additional signs.

If no one comes to claim them after 14 days, they’re thrown away.

Nordby said he’s received a few calls for sign violations and grabbed about a dozen signs, all belonging to Municipal Court judge candidate Michael Morgan except for one belonging to City Council candidate Dini Duclos.

Morgan said he moved his signs on the occasions Nordby called. He added he spends several hours a week driving through the city removing vandalized signs and making sure the campaign volunteers who place his signs around town haven’t put them anywhere that would violate city regulations.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565,

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