Political Sign Rules During Campaign Season

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Starting Oct. 7, the City of Carlsbad’s rules for signs during campaign season kick in, meaning more signs are allowed on private property, and signs are allowed along certain public roads, through Nov. 11, five days following Election Day, Nov. 6.

At a Glance
“Noncommercial” signs, which include political and campaign signs, are allowed year round on private property. Free speech is your right.
During campaign season the amount of signage allowed on private property increases, and signs are allowed on the areas (“right of way”) along most major roads and streets in commercial areas of the city. See a map.
Rules are enforced by the city’s code enforcement officers. Call with questions or concerns, seven days a week, at 760-602-2703.

The city has a one-page summary of these sign rules on its website, including total square footage of signs allowed on private property and a map showing the public streets where signs are allowed. Other campaign season sign rules include:
Signs on private property must be set back five feet from the property line.
Signs in the city’s right of way along streets may not be attached to utility poles or boxes, road signs, trash cans, traffic signals, trees, other signs or bus benches.
Signs may not block any other permitted sign, obstruct public access, such as sidewalks, or block vehicle visibility.
See more rules.

A permit is required for signs in the city’s right of way, but not for signs on private property. The permit fee is $67, which covers all signs from a single campaign or organization. For information on how to get a permit, call 760-602-4610.

Public Forum Areas

Certain areas outside City Hall and the libraries, parks, and public sidewalks and streets are “public forum areas.” The rules stay the same for these areas year round, and a permit is not required:
You must hold your sign or stay within five feet of the sign at all times.
You can’t obstruct traffic, a bike lane or a sidewalk. Cars, bikes and people must be able to safely pass by your sign.
The maximum total size of a sign or signs is 10 square feet per person.
The maximum size of a sign or signs attended by two or more people is 50 square feet.
Signs cannot be inflatable or use an air blower.

Enforcement

Code officers will remove signs on city property that violate the city’s sign laws. Generally speaking, illegal signs on city property will be removed as soon as they are found, either through a complaint or by staff in the field. The city will store the signs for 30 days. Owners may make arrangements to claim their signs by calling 760-602-2703. If signs are not claimed after 30 days, the city will discard the signs.

The city will enforce illegal signs on private property through its code enforcement process, which includes sending a notice of violation to the affected property owner.

The city will respond to reports of illegal signs seven days a week during the campaign season. The code compliance line is monitored regularly, so please leave a message that includes the exact location of the sign. You can also send an email with a photo to codecompliance@carlsbadca.gov .

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