San Bruno campaign spotlights signs

As election season starts heating up, there has already been some conflict over candidate signs.

San Bruno City Council candidate Miguel Araujo said the police “harassed” him for putting campaign signs on a building located at 100 West San Bruno Ave., a now vacant property that used to house Hanlon’s Tire Service.

Araujo said he received permission from the building owner, a family friend, to post his signs in this location.

Araujo was affixing signs, measuring 4 feet by 4 feet, on the building at approximately 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 23, when a San Bruno police officer approached him and asked whether he had permission to put the signs up, Araujo said. The candidate responded that he did have permission. Araujo said another officer threatened to cite him if he did not remove his signs.

Police Chief Neil Telford confirmed that the incident happened that night. He said the officer was suspicious because of the unusual activity — a man toting signs, using a ladder and parking a car on the unused property. Telford did verify that Araujo had permission to post on the building in question from the property owner.

Around election time, Telford said the department receives calls and complaints regarding candidate signs. But he said the matter is often resolved once people understand city ordinances.

When candidates sign up to run in an election, City Clerk Carol Bonner provides them with information about proper posting of signs and literature. These rules are part of the city’s municipal code, available online.

City Attorney Pamela Thompson said the city’s ordinance on election signs is very similar to that of any other sign being posted. Signs are not allowed in any public right-of-way, which includes public buildings, sidewalks and public utility poles. For safety reasons, signs are also prohibited on stop signs, fire escapes and trees, Thompson said.

The city also enforces a slightly different rule that only applies to election signage, which states that the candidate has to remove all their signs or be responsible for the cost to the city of removing them after the election.

Thompson said she could not comment on the incident Araujo detailed, but noted that generally, signs are allowed on private property if the poster has permission from the property owner.

tramroop@examiner.com

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