Paul Coambs on Signs

I submitted a piece entitled “City of Simi Valley Prohibits Political Signs In Favor of Incumbency” to the Simi Acorn.  they published an edited version as “Sign ordinance is bad for democracy”

Below is the full piece. I hope that you will elect to publish it in its entirety.

Paul Coambs

Mr. Coambs, I’m happy to do so. Your letter appears below in its entirety as you emailed it to me:


City of Simi Valley Prohibits Political Signs In Favor of Incumbency

In 2006, the City of Simi Valley enacted a city ordinance prohibiting the placing of temporary signs, including pre-election political signs, on the public right-of-way.

The ordinance asserts, “The placement and accumulation of temporary signs in the public right-of-way, on traffic and utility devices, upon public sidewalks or on public easements presents dangerous conditions to the free and safe flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Such areas must be preserved for official traffic signs and official utility notices in order to assure the safe flow of traffic.”  The ordinance justification offered no proof of hazard existing in the City.

The only proof of justification stated within the ordinance concerned aesthetics.  The ordinance states,  “Prior to the adoption of the ordinance, the City of Simi Valley has permitted temporary signs in the public right-of-way, which has resulted in substantial unsightly conditions, as illustrated in evidence presented to the City Council during its consideration of this ordinance.”

The ordinance further states, “A limitation on temporary sign display is directly related to the objective of aesthetics.”

It goes without saying that a sitting member of the city council enjoys a considerable political incumbent advantage over an election challenger.  That advantage is the result of name recognition and opportunities to interact with the residents and business community in the course of conducting city business.

One of the main mechanisms to gain name recognition is the time honored tradition of posting temporary political signs in advance of an election.  There is no greater venue for political signs than the public right-of-way.

By improving the “aesthetics” of the city and forbidding the posting of political signs on the public right-of-way, the council voted a political advantage for themselves.

Limiting candidate free speech robs the public of the opportunity to learn about their prospective city leaders.

City Council challenger Keith Mashburn wants to amend the city sign ordinance to correct the political injustice.  Vote for Keith Mashburn, a man of integrity.

4 thoughts on “Paul Coambs on Signs

  1. What a lame piece. The community looks so much better now that the signs aren’t all over the parkways, stuck in all the bushes, on top of chain-link fences and in all the street medians. “Injustice” is quite the exaggeration. Those who hustle get sign locations approved by property owners; those who don’t, don’t. If you don’t have support of a lot of people in town who would approve plopping a sign on their property, perhaps you shouldn’t be running.


  2. The ordinance was not written with intent for bias against challengers. It was written in response to numerous complaints from the people, the residents of Simi Valley, because of the election of 2006, mainly because the campaigns of Jim Dantona, Judy Mikels and Peter Foy could not behave. So, Mr. Coambs, coming from a law enforcement background, you understand how a few bad apples can result on laws that impact many others. The incumbents did not pass the ordinance to protect themselves. They enacted what Simi Valley residents told them to, because they were sick of what they saw in 2006, and had had enough.

    If Mr. Mashburn wants more political signs all over town, and have a flashback to 2006, then he needs to state it as such, not have surrogates argue the case nebulously regarding “political advantages.”


  3. “so who will you vote for position x?”
    “probably candidate a”
    “why’s that?”
    “i dunno. i just saw a bunch of signs for him/her, and i don’t know who else is running.”


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