Sign graveyard: Redemption for yard signs

Sign graveyard: Redemption for yard signs

EUGENE, Ore. -- 'Tis the season for political signs, and more houses on the market means more "for sale" signs, too.

But where you put your signs may determine just how long they can stay there.

Cindy Peterson's house near Cottage Grove has been on the market since February, but she didn't realize her "for sale" signs were placed improperly until she came home one day and they were gone.

"The county should have given us a phone call, a letter, a knock on the door...don't just come along and take people's signs," said Peterson.

Public Works says in Lane County, if signs are placed in the right of way, it has the right to remove them.

"It's not anything personal, we just need to make sure that people can see without distractions," said John Petsch of Lane County's public works department.

So whether you're selling your house or posting a political sign...where can you legally place your sign?

There's no universal regulation for signage posted along roads, but county and city officials say 30 feet from the center yellow line is the best rule to follow. But every road is different.

Signs must be placed behind the right of way, and on River Road and other large city streets, that means the right of way can be anywhere from 40 to 100 feet from the the center of the road.

But measuring feet can be a visual nightmare, so Eric Jones, Public Affairs Manager for the City of Eugene, says just place signs behind the sidewalk.

Jones says the reason for removal is to "keep visual clutter off the streets," and avoid distracting motorists.

"A sign says 'read me'," he described. "For that moment that a motorist is looking at a sign they're not looking at the road."

Petsch agreed, saying removing illegally placed signs and encouraging sign owners to reposition prevents unnecessary accidents.

The clearing effort seems to be working, Petsch said. Officials at Lane County Department of Public Works couldn't remember a single accident resulting from sign placement in the right of way.

But if your "for sale" or political sign obstructs motorists view, blocks pedestrians or presents a public safety hazard city and county officials have a right to remove it.

Politics aside, sign removal is based on citizen complaints or if county crews determine signs are a public safety hazard - meaning less than 30 feet from the right of way, your signs are free for the taking.

"If there are so many signs that a driver comes up to an intersection and can't see a car or a bike rider or a pedestrian," described Petsch, "more than likely there may be an accident."

No set fund has been set for public works sign removal in Lane county. Petsch explained paying for crews to remove signs falls into public works routine road maintenance.

"It's money we could spend doing road maintenance issues, verses picking up signs if the signs were put where they should be, not where they're a safety hazard," said Petsch.