Hawaii political signs: Private property or eyesore?

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Election Day is over. Hawaii’s votes are all tallied, but political campaign signs are still up.

The Department of Transportation said if they are on private land, it is up to the property owner to take them down.

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The DOT said campaign signs on private property are legal year round as long as they do not interfere with the right of way on the road.

“You see it on fences of people’s homes, things like that, those are legal,” said DOT spokesman Jai Cunningham. “It’s just when you see ’em on utility poles, when you see ’em on sidewalks, when you see ’em in medians, those are areas that you’re not supposed to be in.”

Officials want drivers to keep their eyes on the road, which is why political signs are not allowed on things like overpasses.

“If it is in right of way, that sign gets removed,” Cunningham said. “As long as it’s on private property, it kind of isn’t our kuleana.”

Some argue while public spaces are prohibited for posting campaign sings, there are regulations that other industries — like real estate — have to abide by on private property.

“You can only have one sign in your front yard that says ‘for sale,’ unless you’re on a corner, then you can have one on each corner,” said Kim Leslein Soares, a Hawaii Kai resident and realtor with Hawaii Life.

“And, I just think it’s a double standard.”

Kim Leslein Soares, Hawaii Kai resident / Hawaii Life realtor

Soares pointed to Hawaii’s billboard ban and said smaller signs can be their own form of eye pollution. “The eye pollution to me is when you see 10 different names and they’re opposing parties!”

The Outdoor Circle agreed.

“You get some people and they say, ‘Oh, I put up Mary’s sign so I got to put up Sally’s sign,’ and they’re maybe exactly running against each other in the same office. So what it contributes to is just visual clutter!”

Winston Welch, Outdoor Circle executive director

Both Welch and Soares said political signs do not sway them when it comes to voting for a candidate.

“I think the majority of people aren’t voting just because they’ve seen a sign on the side of the road. They want to know the facts; they want to know what the candidate’s all about,” Soares said.

“Obviously they want to leave our society in a better place, and they can help in this small way by removing their campaign signage and asking their supporters to remove the signage 10 days after the election, after you’ve given your mahalo’s.”

The DOT lists phone numbers for every county to report an illegally-placed sign in their jurisdiction.

Welch floated the idea that home owners could plant a tree in an appropriate place after taking down political sign.

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“And that would make a real big difference, so we invite candidates to encourage their supporters to do something like that as well,” Welch said.

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