In Part One I described the first day of our ownership of a Kerry-Edwards sign. In this part two, I report the sign's untimely demise.
Orcinus reports there have been a number of violent incidents around the country in which people with the temerity to display a Kerry-Edwards sign have suffered for it. My story is much tamer: someone took the sign a day after I put it up.
I called the cops to report a theft, thinking that if this was not a unique event, it would help build a record of it. This being Coral Gables, a cop was dispatched within minutes to investigate the theft of a $5 sign. Unfortunately, we'd been out much of the day, and couldn't even tell him about what time it likely happened. The cop was very polite. I got the sense he had views about the election and was disciplining himself not to utter them; he was professional enough that when he left I wasn't even sure which side he was on. (Just in case you are thinking white male Florida stereotyped cop, forget it: this was a trim, no-accent, black man I'd guess in his 30s.) His main advice was that if we got another sign, not to put it on the swale (the strip of city-owned land between the sidewalk and the street), but rather on our property. Material on the swale, he instructed us, can be considered abandoned and thus anyone can take it. (My own opinion is that this rule does not apply to yard signs that are clearly fixed in place, even on the swale, but why believe me, I'm not a member of the Florida Bar. Anyway, it's the law on the ground that counts.)
So we went to get another sign. This was not easy as there was a national shortage of Kerry-Edwards yard signs. But we got one, put it up, and it's still there. Unfortunately, the shortage is so acute that the Kerry folks wouldn't even sell me a spare for me to give to Ms. 'Morales' across the street (see part one).
Meanwhile, however, the street has sprouted two other K-E signs … and one Bush sign.
Huh. In California I always called that piece of the property the ‘verge’ and thought it was owned by the fellow with title to the property on the other side of the city-owned sidewalk, to plant with flowers or signage at will. Do the laws or lot conventions differ in Florida, or was I just wrong?
Same thing happening back home. There they call it the easement and it exists even on property (like my family home) where there is no sidewalk (it just extends a little into our lawn). The city has told everyone not to put signs down there because it is city property and they will be removed. So everyone’s signs are up by their homes. Unfortunately my parents are the only ones with a K-E sign in our neighborhood (everyone else is a B-C).
As to the status of the swale in Coral Gables, it was ruled that:
At the September 28 City Commission meeting, an Ordinance was passed requiring owners and occupants to maintain their property clean, litter-free and in mowed condition to include sidewalks, grass strips, alleys, curbs, swale areas and rights-of-way. With very few exceptions, residents already perform this mowing and cleanup work along with the maintenance of private property. The mowing requirement is in addition to the general cleanliness maintenance that has always been in effect and gives the City the ability to enforce that all residents do their part in keeping the City Beautiful.
(Took this from e-newscoralgables.com)
Now I’m up in West Palm, and I have the same requirement to face. However, if I try to chop down one of the idiotic and dangerous coconut palms of death planted in the swale, the city will come after me. They’ve said as much.
And I think this illustrates the difference…its YOUR sign. Because Coral Gables also issues city made signs for the Children at Play Awareness program, and encourages you to put them in the swale, and not elsewhere. But they make clear its a city sign. The Herald said back in December you can’t even stop people from parking in your swale. So I guess the deal is, if the city puts it there, or tells you you should, no one can touch it. But if you or anyone non-city employed puts anything in the swale, its up for grabs…
I had a sign; it got stolen. I got another sign; it got stolen. Then I got annoyed, and had a friend who makes signs for a living make me a nice big 3’x4′ sign that says, at the bottom, in letters maybe an inch high: “Thou Shalt Not Steal” — God. It’s still there.
We’re swimming in K/E signs at our county Dem HQ, because the Dem Store sent 300 more plastic tops than we ordered. We’re recycling wire frames from previous local campaigns… But since there are already many more signs than have been put up for our side in a decade, and we’re a not-very-densely-populated semi-rural county (in which the R’s are a 55% majority, though you wouldn’t know that from the Bush-Cheney sign count), we’re about at the saturation point. Five four oh – four six four – DEMO if anyone’s within driving distance of Lexington, VA.