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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
ArlingtonQ&A: County tackling illegal proliferation of campaign signage

Q&A: County tackling illegal proliferation of campaign signage

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Rules for placing campaign signage on the medians of roads owned by the Arlington County government are pretty straightforward – there is a limit of two signs per median strip per candidate (or party ticket). Anything more than that is a violation.

This campaign season, it appears the campaigns of gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin either don’t know the rules, or are disregarding them. Several stretches of roadway have seen medians plastered with campaign signage far in excess of what is allowed, even as signage for local candidates has been within the guidelines.

The Sun Gazette went to the Arlington County government’s zoning staff for answers to how the matter is being addressed.

If enforcement staff sees illegal signage (for instance, 10 Youngkin or McAuliffe signs in one median), is the county staff removing those, or leaving them in place? And let’s say, as in this example, there are 10 of the same signs where only two are allowed, would all 10 be removed, or would eight be removed and two left?

Zoning Inspectors remove illegal signs (including, but not limited to political signs) from the right-of-way (ROW) proactively and on a complaint basis. That being said, removing illegal signs from the ROW is not the zoning inspectors’ only responsibility, as they enforce the many regulations that make up the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance.

If there are 10 political signs of one candidate in a median, then eight would be removed and two would be left, as long as the two signs were in compliance with code section 13.11.2.E of the Zoning Ordinance.

Is county staff removing illegally placed signs on its own authority (when it sees the excess signage it is removed), or is it waiting for someone to complain about the situation in a specific location before acting?

Zoning Inspectors work proactively and on a complaint basis when removing signs.

Is the county government discussing the matter with the Virginia Department of Transportation so state transportation officials are aware of the situation on roadways owned by the state within Arlington? And has the county government been in contact with the Republican and Democratic party leaders in Arlington to make them aware of the violation of the sign ordinance?

Zoning Enforcement has not reached out to VDOT personally. However, if Zoning were to receive a sign complaint on a VDOT owned/maintained ROW, Zoning would provide the VDOT Customer Service phone number, 800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623).

Arlington Zoning Enforcement has reached out to both party headquarters and left messages to educate them on the sign ordinance.

Would it be within the ordinance for more than two signs per candidate to be placed in medians for weekends, as long as they were removed for weekdays?

The Zoning Ordinance does not differentiate between weekdays and weekends. However, Zoning Inspectors do not normally work on weekends.

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