Council limits political yard signs

Large messages prohibited in residential areas

May 08, 2007|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,Sun reporter

Dreading another season with supersize campaign signs in your neighborhood?

Fear not. The Baltimore City Council voted yesterday to rid residential neighborhoods of all political signs larger than 16 square feet.

Sponsored by Councilman Robert W. Curran, the bill does not apply to commercial areas. Curran said the aim of the bill was to free residents of "behemoth" signs that cause "visual pollution."

Curran was inspired by the bevy of gigantic campaign signs dotting city neighborhoods last year.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign gained notoriety in the 2006 campaign when a 4-foot-by-8-foot sign for Ehrlich went up across the street from now-Gov. Martin O'Malley's house in Northeast Baltimore.

But Curran said the culprits were largely candidates running for the legislative districts.

Other Maryland jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, regulate the size of political signs.

Councilwoman Belinda Conaway voted against the bill. Conaway has said the bill is unfair to candidates challenging incumbents who have limited budgets and don't have the connections that incumbents do.

"Seems like we're slanting the edge that we already have," said Conaway at a council lunch last week.

Conaway's father, Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway, had an enormous sign in his yard last year. Believed to be the biggest in the city, it measured 8 feet by 20 feet.

"It was very effective," she said of her father's sign. He won re-election and says he intends to run for mayor this year.

The bill comes just as the city is set to begin a mayoral campaign, as well as races for City Council.

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