City of Berkeley removes truckloads of illegally placed campaign signs

Vivian Roan/Staff

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The city of Berkeley has spent nearly $2,000 of taxpayer money removing 604 illegally placed campaign signs from street medians.

Under Berkeley municipal code, campaign signs are not allowed to be placed on street medians — the strips of land separating lanes of traffic. Candidates and committees were sent letters from the city early last week giving them until Oct. 19 to voluntarily remove their signs.

City officials began removing any illegally placed signs Saturday and continued Monday, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

“We picked up about 2 1/2 truckloads of signs,” Chakko said. “The issue is that we want to maintain the medians. Our rules are very clear — there are places that these signs could not be. We wanted campaigns to remove the signs voluntarily, which many of them did.”

The city sends out similar notices in every election, according to Chakko.

Igor Tregub, who is running for the City Council District 1 seat, said his campaign removed its signs before the deadline.

“I removed all signs by Friday, as requested by city staff,” Tregub said in an email. “These signs posed only a fraction the total signs out in Berkeley (for my campaign), most of which are in neighbors’ yards or windows. Many of the signs I removed are now on people’s porches.”

School board candidate Abdur Sikder said he also received the letter but did not have time to remove his own campaign signs from Sacramento Street, University Avenue and San Pablo Avenue.

Sikder said the city gave him “very short notice” and said he wishes the city had been more transparent about where the campaign signs are allowed. He said that because the election will happen soon, he will not order more signs.

“I will not replace signs because by the time I order them and they come in, there will be no time — people will have already voted,” Sikder said. “Some people have already put some of their signs back up.”

Along with street medians, candidates are restricted from placing their campaign signs on sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs, lampposts, hydrants, trees, utility poles, and fire or police alarm systems, as well as any traffic control fixtures.

Alexandra Stassinopoulos covers schools and communities. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.