Campaign signs of Republican council candidates are being taken down or removed by unknown person(s). At one location on Commonwealth Avenue, the signs of Van VanFleet, Monique Miles and Bob Wood were taken down and left in a pile. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes political campaign signs the fact is that the City of Alexandria allows the signs. Defacing, destroying, or removing of political signs could subject a person to fines and/or prosecution.
Many concerns have been brought forth over the past several years concerning the proliferation of political campaign signs during election years:
- Unattractive appearance of the City during elections do to the amount of signage
- Difficulty in maintaining and mowing the public right of way due to the signs
- Traffic hazard created by signs at intersections and in the medians
Political signs are advantageous for candidates. Signs allow a person running for political office to gain exposure to the public with minimal cost as opposed to other media outlets. In order to post political campaign signs the candidate must first file a permit with the city and post a $100 bond.
The guidelines for the posting of political signs in Alexandria are controlled by section 9-108 of the the Alexandria Zoning Ordinance:
- No political signs may be posted in the right-of-way without a permit.
- The zoning ordinance prohibits posting signs in the public right-of-way on any street sign, bus stop sign or traffic sign, sidewalk, crosswalk or curb, curbstone, street, lamp post, hydrant, railroad trestle, electric light or power pole, telephone pole or wire, fire alarm fixtures, public bridge, drinking fountain or natural features (such as trees, shrubs, rocks or tree stakes or guards). No signs may be posted on City property such as parks, public buildings and plazas, school buildings and playgrounds, etc.
- All political signs displayed in the public right-of-way must be freestanding, extending no more than 42 inches above ground level, supported by no more than two supports no larger than 1 inch by 2 inches, and placed in a grass area, in a street median or alongside a street. No signs may be placed in City flower beds, tree wells or other areas which are not a grass area.
- In order to avoid traffic hazards, no sign may be placed within 15 feet of the end of any traffic median, or within 15 feet of the intersection of the curb line or two intersecting streets or on any traffic channelization island.
- No signs may be placed on the public right-of-way on Washington Street/George Washington Memorial Parkway, according to a 1931 agreement between the City of Alexandria and the Federal Government.
- Signs may be displayed for a period of time beginning 90 days prior to the election and ending 15 days following the election.
- Any single sign remaining within the public right-of-way on the 16th day following the election will result in forfeiture of the bond.
- These guidelines do not apply to political signs posted on private property.
- Signs found to be in violation of the provision of the zoning ordinance may be removed, in which case the City shall retain the entire amount of the bond to defray the cost of enforcement.
Questions regarding political signage should be directed to the Department Of Planning and Zoning at (703) 746-4333.