Minimum restrictions set for political signs in Des Moines


by Jack Mayne

With campaigns underway for Des Moines City Council, questions have recently arisen as to where political signs may be placed and meetings on city property.

Private property meeting or signs are up to the home or business owner, of course, but what about public property – parks, playgrounds, areas around city buildings?

Lorri Ericson, Des Moines assistant city manager, says it is okay, with minor restrictions.

“City facilities are available on an ‘equal access’ basis,” says Ericson. “We make no distinction between whether the group is political or not and spaces are available as they would be for any other event.”

But candidates are responsible for removing and hauling away their signs and must do so within 10 days after each election.

Ericson adds that signs can’t be put on or attached to “other objects.”

“They may not interfere with sight line views or travel,” she told The Waterland Blog in an e-mail. “They cannot be placed in medians or traffic islands nor can they damage any landscaping or infrastructure. They must be professionally prepared and should contain a name and contact information on them. Signs are limited in size to 4 square feet and a maximum of 5 feet high.”

Ericson said political signs don’t need a city permit.

“But if they are improperly placed or causing a line of sight problem, they may be removed by city staff.”

She says city ordinances permit the city staff “to remove and destroy the signs without notice, we do try to contact the candidate or campaign chair and provide an opportunity for them to either remove the sign themselves or retrieve any signs that have been removed by city staff.”

Violators could be charged for the cost of removal of signs and offenders could be cited if it happens twice in a year.

“However, to the best of my knowledge, we have not had a need to charge for the removal and storage, let alone issue a citation,” Ericson says.


Comments

One Response to “Minimum restrictions set for political signs in Des Moines”
  1. Pat Nardo says:

    This is an important issue that our city has taken a responsible approach to. It speaks to the greater common sense that some candidates and their supporters are not always ready to exhibit. This should be lauded as a show of common decency from our council and reveals the good leadership of our current mayor which appears more conspicuous by the absence of such critical forethought over previous years, previous leaders. Thank you Ms. Ericson for eliminating some landscape blight.

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