While communities such as La Jolla were peppered with political signs in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election, Carmel Valley remained relatively spared.
Thanks are due in part to resident John Dean, who helped the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board enact a strict political sign plan in September, notifying candidates and their sign-posting companies to stay out of Carmel Valley with illegal postings.
A surprising violator
The only setback was the Police Officers Association, which in the last week before the election put up at least 2.5 miles of endorsement signs for city attorney candidate Jan Goldsmith in Carmel Valley.
Dean said he was doubly appalled as the association had to go out of their way to find a sign company which would actually come into Carmel Valley and also because it was a police association which was breaking the law.
"They plastered our community and then sent us the bill," Dean said, referring to city code compliance officers who had to come out and pick up all the signs.
The officers association did not respond to a request for comment.
Sign of the times
While the community got out of election season relatively unscathed, issues still remain with signs of a different nature, such as those promoting real estate open houses and vacancies. And with the holiday season approaching, signs are also springing up offering holiday light services. All are considered illegal.
The planning board explored the idea of setting up a dialogue with local real estate offices about establishing a protocol regarding their open house signs.
Real estate agents are striking back, saying when they post their open house signs on street corners they often take them down by the end of the day.
Increasingly, sign theft has become a big problem for local Realtors. They often find that citizens who are mindful of the sign rules are plucking their signs off of street corners.
In these uncertain times, real estate agents need all the help they can get, said Coldwell Banker agent Christina Dworsky, who appealed to the planning board to save her signs.
"These are tough times and open houses help," Dworsky said.
A handful of local agents have been getting their signs swiped, she said, and at $50 a pop it can be a painful loss of property.
According to city code, it is unlawful for any person to place signs on public property, which includes roadside signs and those hoisted up onto poles. Signs are only allowed if the property owner, be it a residential homeowner or business owner, gives their approval.
Ida Ford, the city's code compliance officer, said the interpretation is left up to the neighborhood volunteers regarding real estate signs.
But Dean said selective enforcement wouldn't work. Others might find it unfair that their business signs must come down but the real estate signs could stay up, he said.
Dean said city code states that agents are only allowed one sign on the property for sale.
Planning board member Scott Tillson said the real estate agents' signs are private property and they need to come up with a method to return them if they are being taken down. They can't just be taken, he said.
Board member Dave McIntyre said his tactic is to lay the signs down on the sidewalk with a note referring the sign owner to the community code.