ADOT&PF reminds Alaskans of laws guiding campaign signs

  • Campaign signs for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayoral candidates, shown here Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, have been placed on a lot along the Homer Bypass at the corner of Lake Street. According to state law, no sign visible and legible from the road can be placed along state right of ways such as the Bypass and Lake Street unless the sign is related to a business. The “for sale” sign the background would be legal. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

With campaigning for elections underway in Alaska, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) last week sent out a press release reminding Alaskans that the use of public right of ways for political advertising is prohibited. Advertising in right of ways or visible and legible from state right of ways are prohibited.

On the lower Kenai Peninsula, state public right of ways include the Sterling Highway, the Old Sterling Highway, the North Fork Road, the Homer Bypass, Ocean Drive, Homer Spit Road, Kachemak Drive, East End Road, Pioneer Avenue, Lake Street, West Hill Road, East Hill Road and Diamond Ridge Road.

“In 1998, Alaskans overwhelmingly voted to keep the state free from outdoor advertising. Alaska statutes and regulations address unauthorized signs both within and along the State’s public right of ways, including parked vehicles displaying such signs and signs on private property legible from the main-traveled way,” the press release said.

That means political candidates cannot put signs within the State’s public right of ways. “That applies to vehicles parked in right of ways that are used to display political advertisements. Such signs create safety hazards by obstructing views, distracting drivers, and creating obstacles in collisions. These signs may be removed by ADOT&PF crews without notification,” the press release said.

Alaska law also prohibits placing signs along public right of ways. “As a follow up to the Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and public ballot initiatives, Alaska laws apply to signs on public or commercial property either within 660 feet of State’s public right of way or beyond 660 feet and legible from the main traveled way. These signs may be removed by the State at the expense of the property owner,” the press release said.

The owner of the property or the person placing or maintaining the unauthorized sign is subject to removal expenses of at least $50 per sign; fines of at least $50 and as much as $5,000 if convicted of a misdemeanor; and associated costs.

“The State of Alaska recognizes that advertising is an important effort and expensive investment for all. Campaigns and volunteers may simply not realize the prohibitions regarding advertising in and along the State’s public right of ways. Though the extent of the public right of ways are not always easily visible on the ground, the laws prohibit all unauthorized signs legible from the traveled way,” the press release said.

For more information, review the Department’s webpage at http://dot.alaska.gov/campaignsigns/ and contact the local State Right-of-Way Office for assistance related to specific right of ways.

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