[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Clairton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Political Campaign Signs
[Adopted 10-12-1993 by Ord. No. 1560]
Unless it appears from the context that a different meaning is intended, the following words shall have the meanings given them in this section:
- The City of Clairton, Allegheny County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
- POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SIGN
- Any sign urging the election or defeat of any candidate seeking any political office or urging the passage or defeat of any ballot measure, but does not mean or include any billboard owned or maintained by a commercial firm or advertising company.
- PUBLIC PROPERTY
- All publicly owned property, including streets, rights-of-way, easements and everything affixed thereto and thereover.
- Includes any bill, poster, placard, handbill, flyer, painting, sign or written matter in words, symbols or pictures or in any combination thereof.
- ZONING OFFICER
- The City Code Enforcement Officer and/or Zoning Officer.
Posting on public right-of-way prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to post a political campaign sign on or over any public property in the City, except in specified areas as shall be designated by resolution of the City Council.
Posting on utility poles prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to post a political campaign sign on any public utility pole or other public utility structure or to post, paint or otherwise affix such signs to trees, rocks or other natural features.
Size of sign. It shall be unlawful for any person to erect any political campaign sign which exceeds 36 square feet, and it shall be unlawful to erect political campaign signs on any one lot or separate area designated by the City Council, the total message area of which exceeds 72 square feet.
It shall be unlawful for any person to post a political campaign sign more than 45 days prior to the election for which the sign is posted, and it shall be unlawful to fail to remove a political campaign sign within 10 days after the election for which the sign was posted.
Any person erecting such signs or an authorized agent of the political party or candidate on whose behalf such signs are erected shall first apply for and obtain a permit from the City and deposit with the City, at the time of the application, the sum of $100 as a guaranty that all signs will be removed promptly within 10 days after the date of the election to which such sign relates. If such signs are not removed at the end of the ten-day period, the City shall have them removed and retain the full sum deposited to reimburse the expense incurred by it.
The Zoning Officer or his authorized agents are hereby authorized to remove any political campaign sign found posted within the corporate limits of the City when such sign is in violation of the provisions of this article.
For the purpose of removing political campaign signs posted in violation of this article, the Zoning Officer is empowered to enter upon the property where the signs are posted, and is further authorized to enlist the aid or assistance of any other department of the City and to take such legal process to the end that all such signs shall be expeditiously removed from any property where posted.
When the Zoning Officer or his agents find that a political campaign sign has been posted in violation of this article or without the payment of the required permit fee, the Zoning Officer shall attempt to contact the candidate, committee or person responsible for the posting of such sign, who shall then be given 24 hours' advance telephonic notice to remove the sign and of the nature of the violation and the location of the sign. If, after such notification, the illegal sign is not removed or a permit obtained, the Zoning Officer shall remove or cause to be removed said sign and store it in a safe location. If, after reasonable diligence, the Zoning Officer is unable to contact the candidate, committee or person responsible for the sign, the notice requirement may be dispensed with and the sign removed to be stored in a secure location.
The Zoning Officer shall keep a record of the location from which any political campaign sign was removed, shall store the political campaign sign in a safe location for at least 60 days and shall immediately notify by telephone the candidate, committee or person responsible for the posting of the sign, indicating the fact of removal and the location where it may be retrieved. If unable to make telephone contact, the Zoning Officer shall provide written notice if the address of the candidate, committee or person is known or can be ascertained. Political campaign signs shall be returned upon the payment of the deposit fee, removal charges or other charges provided herein.
Any responsible person, as described herein, shall be charged, and the City shall be entitled to receive, the sum of $15 for every political sign removed by the Zoning Officer for which no permit had been obtained, to cover the expense of removal, notice and storage. In addition, where unusual effort is needed to remove a sign, such as the cutting or removal of supporting structures, use of aerial devices, towing of trailer signs or other unusual situation, the City may collect from the person responsible a sum sufficient to cover the costs of such removal and the hourly wages of employees so utilized.
In a campaign for political office, the candidate for such office shall be deemed the person responsible for the posting of political campaign signs unless the candidate first notifies the Zoning Officer of another person who is responsible. In such case, the candidate shall provide the name, address, telephone number and signed consent of such other responsible person. In a campaign regarding a ballot measure, the President of the committee supporting or opposing such ballot measure shall be deemed responsible, unless the Zoning Officer is first notified of some other person responsible, in the manner described above. The candidate or, in the case of the ballot measure, the committee President, or other responsible person if so designated, shall be liable to pay any fees or costs for the removal and storage of illegal signs as set out herein. Further, such candidate, committee President or other designated person shall be subject to prosecution for any violation of this article. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to make any person liable, civilly or criminally, for any sign posted by persons unknown to him or her or by persons over whom he or she has no control.
Political campaign signs in violation of this article are hereby declared to be public nuisances and may be abated as such by the City. The collection of removal fees shall not preclude the City from prosecuting any person for violating this article.
The Zoning Officer is hereby authorized and empowered to revoke any permit issued pursuant to this article upon failure of the holder of such permit to comply with any provision of this article.
Any person who shall erect, alter or remove or who shall do or cause to be done any work in the erection, alteration, removal or repair of any such sign without first having obtained the permit required by this article; or who shall fail to comply with any of the requirements of the permit of this article; or who shall fail to comply with any regulation, order or direction of the Zoning Officer; or who shall violate any of the provisions of this article in any way shall be liable, upon conviction thereof, to a fine or penalty of not more than $600 and costs of prosecution and, in default of payment of such fines and costs, to imprisonment for not more than 30 days.
Each day's violation of any of the provisions of this article shall constitute a separate violation.