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Press Release: Political Signs in Public Rights-of-Ways

Please click here for Press Release. 

September 13, 2021

City Attorney’s Office
Rea Culwell
Em: rculwell@cpwa.us

 City Must Allow Political Signs in City’s Right-of-Way.

Messaging in political signs is constitutionally protected free speech. In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States decide the case of Reed v. Gilbert, finding that any law or regulation of speech based on content is presumptively unconstitutional. In other words, if one has to read the sign to determine whether the sign is allowed or not under the law, the law is unconstitutional, with very few exceptions. Prior to Reed, most Washington state cities prohibited political signs in the cities’ right-of-ways. These prohibitions are unconstitutional under Reed. A city can regulate signs in ways that don’t require reading the sign, such size and height, lighted vs. unlighted, and how long a sign may remain. For example, a city can prohibit a sign outside of a business that blocks the sidewalk from safe pedestrian use. In regard to political signs, generally the City of College Place must allow them to be placed in the City right-of-ways so long as they do not pose a traffic safety hazard. The City encourages you to report any sign that you believe is a traffic safety hazard and reminds the public that any person who removes or defaces a lawfully placed political sign without authority is a crime. Please, remember to vote!