Election Season Draws Attention to Legality of Signage

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The election season is upon us, which means signs are popping up alongside the roads in Kodiak and all across the state – not always legally.

Jeremy Woodrow, the communications officer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, says state law prohibits outdoor advertising along state roads.

“So, it’s not just billboards, but it’s yard signs, your 2 foot by 3 foot signs, even those square advertising signs, any type of sign that’s advertising is actually prohibited by Alaska law, so it’s not just pertaining to political signs, but it’s signs for businesses as well.”

He says signs must not be within 660 feet of the nearest street edge and says, around election time, DOT sends out notices not to put signs up in the right of way.

“We don’t have time to go out and pick out every sign that’s on the side of the road. We understand that they can get quite prolific around political advertising season, so when we go out there in force, we look for what’s the first safety risk, and then we work our way down from there.”

He says it’s up to campaigns and those who work them to comply.

Legality also depends on the district and the street. Not all of them are state owned. For instance, Woodrow says Rezanoff is a state road, but the City of Kodiak maintains Mill Bay Road. And while some cities may permit signs, the City of Kodiak code is consistent with state law and also disallows them if they are too close to the right of way.

There are a number of different considerations a person must take into account before putting up a sign: whether that piece of property belongs to the city, state or borough. And then: how big is the sign. And then also: how close is to the right of way?

In borough code, signs are regulated for the sake of safety, but as long as they fit those regulations, signs are permitted in residential zoning districts. Where did all this code originate?

Woodrow says it started with legislators trying to keep Alaska beautiful and not mar the scenery.

However, bottom line, it’s about the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

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