ML council discusses political, special event signs

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Richard Byrd/Columbia Basin Herald The Five Corners intersection in Moses Lake is one of the more popular spots in the city for political signs.

MOSES LAKE — It's a topic that has been discussed during campaign season in Moses Lake for several years now and the Moses Lake City Council is reopening the discussion about political and community event signs in common space areas around the city.

“Every year come election season I hear from some of you, I hear from some of the public, I hear from some of the business owners who say ‘gee, they (political signs) look ratty,' ‘some of them look bad,'” Community Development Director Gilbert Alvarado told the council Tuesday night.

Signs, including politically-oriented ones and signs promoting or advertising community events, are allowed to be placed at the following city-owned locations:

  • The grassy area commonly referred to as “Kwicky Corner,” at the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and Third Avenue.
  • The grassy area near Pioneer Way and Elder Street, commonly referred to as “Five Corners.”
  • The grassy area adjacent to West Broadway Avenue and East Broadway Avenue extended.
  • The grassy area adjacent to state Route 17 and Grape Drive.
  • The grassy area adjacent to Marina Drive and West Broadway Avenue.
  • The northwest corner of Wheeler Road and SR-17.

“What kind of message are we trying to send when folks drive by and look at these political signs? I mean summer months are great for us, but I get the calls about how sloppy things look and it becomes a code enforcement issue, it becomes an issue for Parks and Rec and it's a community issue,” Alvarado told the council.

Alvarado believes if some sort of regulation were passed to prohibit the signs at the previously listed locations the signs would make their way onto private properties. Council member Ryann Leonard made the suggestion to limit political signage, but still allow signs for special events.

The problem with that, according to City Manager John Williams, is the city would be getting into the “filtering of content,” which he said could put the city in a tough place if a community member were to challenge the measure on the basis of their First Amendment/civil rights being violated.

“I think we could also think about decreasing the number of spaces we are allowing them to use. I mean every piece of state property doesn't have to be used for signs,” council member Dean Hankins remarked.

“We don't allow political signs around City Hall and the fire department and police department, which is city property, so maybe we should just say there is no signs on city property,” council member David Curnel added.

City staff will be bringing a proposal to a future council meeting for the council to discuss.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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