City to institute sign pick-up fees

Campaign signage along Pacheco Boulevard, including home-made signs. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)
Campaign signage along Pacheco Boulevard, including home-made signs. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)
Martinez Tribune

Every election season, candidate signage of all sizes and messages, like weeds, start sprouting along roadsides as well as on poles and fence lines throughout the area.

In the waning days of an election, it never fails that the numbers of unsightly signs increase.

But now, the clock is ticking for candidates and their supporters to not only remember where campaign signs that dot the city and county landscape were placed, but go out and remove them.

Within the city limits of Martinez, signage must be removed no later than 10 days after the election, while the county requirement is 90 days.

Dave Scola, the city’s Director of Public Works, noted the candidates or their supporters have been pretty good, by and large, when it comes to retrieving signs.

After that 10 day period, Scola said candidates are given a call to remind them that their signage is still up and it needs to come down within a couple of days.

Under the current system, candidates are only charged a fee for recovery and storage costs if Public Works staff has to go out to get the signs and hold them at the City yard for candidates who want them back.

Otherwise, campaign signs that go uncollected by their owners are now simply picked up and disposed of by Public Works staff. Deputy City Clerk Mercy Cabral acknowledged this is a financial loss to the city.

But candidates are forewarned that this practice will change in the near future.

Cabral said whether or not candidates want their signs back, they will be charged a fee if city workers have to go out and pick up signage.

“We have not decided how much that fee will be,’’ she said, but it will happen soon in order to update literature that candidates receive from the City about dates and regulations for erecting campaign signs.

According to Contra Costa County Public Works Customer Service Coordinator Carrie Ricci, the majority of campaign signage that shows around the county also is picked up by the responsible party after the election.

“If signs are placed in the public right of way in unincorporated County and is a safety issue, the Public Works Department will pick up the sign,’’ she said. “We hold onto the signs for approximately 90 days and charge $75 per sign at pick up.’’

If it’s not an immediate safety issue, the signs are left and Public Works will contact the sign’s owner to pick it up. The majority of campaign signage is picked up by the responsible party after the election.

Ricci noted that depending on the materials contained in the signs, efforts are made to recycle the signage.

The expectation for these types of temporary signs also goes for Realtor signs and other advertisements such as garage sales and estate sales, Ricci said.

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