City of Savannah confiscates nearly 200 misplaced political signs in past month

Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 4:23 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Drive around Savannah during election season, and you’re sure to see campaign signs—a lot of them.

The problem is, many of them end up where they shouldn’t. Residents and business owners say it’s becoming a real problem.

WTOC Investigates examines where you can and can’t put campaign signs.

“As soon as I walked out you could see it,” said Nina Tomko, a resident of Savannah. A campaign sign—sticking out of her grass.

Only she didn’t put it there, someone else did—without asking!

“I was furious,” Tomko said. “I threw it away.”

Nina Tomko is one of many Savannah residents who say they are tired of seeing misplaced campaign signs littering their yards, businesses, and city streets. They say the problem seems to be getting worse each campaign season.

In the past month, the city’s Code Compliance Department says it has confiscated nearly 200 campaign signs, triggering them to start tracking the problem.

So, what are the do’s and don’ts before sticking that campaign sign in the ground? We went straight to the city code on placement of campaign signs. We looked up common offenders like median strips.

Section 1 of the code states, “No sign shall be erected or located on any street or right-of-way”—that includes median strips, so medians are a no-go for campaign signs.

Another frequent offender? Street corners. This one is a little more tricky.

Section 3A of the code says signs “in the area known as the visibility triangle” are not allowed, as they could block a driver’s line-of-sight.

How about that strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk?

Section 5 of the code says signs must be placed on the “back side of the sidewalk, away from the street. "

Keep in mind, the code also clearly states you must always get permission before putting a sign on someone else’s property—a rule homeowners like Tomko hope people start respecting.

“Stop! Really simply,” Tomko said. “It’s not your business to try to represent what I’m thinking or what my values are, so please just stay out of my front yard.”

The city’s Code Compliance Department is responsible for removing misplaced campaign signs, but where do these signs go once they are confiscated?

They end up at the city’s Sycamore Street lot behind Gadsden Elementary School - a sort of sign purgatory. That’s where they’ll sit until three days after elections. If the signs aren’t claimed by then, the city throws them away.

To report an illegally placed campaign sign, simply dial 311.

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