- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette Zoning Commission says a proposal up for a vote next week would gut limits on political signs and leave residents exposed to increased visual clutter.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/VOhe5P ) the City-Parish Council on Tuesday is set to vote on lifting a ban on political signs on private property in the city earlier than 90 days before an election.

City-parish government stopped enforcing the prohibition earlier this year when a candidate challenged the time limit as a strike at free speech.

The Zoning Commission on Monday OK’d the proposed changes, but a letter sent to the council Wednesday on behalf of the commission says the issue deserves more discussion.

“The amended law leaves our community exposed to increased visual clutter with candidates for political office having no time limitations on when they may place their signs in advance of an election,” the Zoning Commission wrote.

Commission Chairman Bruce Conque said he understands the constitutional issues but some limitations are needed to keep political signs from cluttering the city year-round.

“The concern was that it removed all limitations, that there were no limits on political signs,” Conque said. “If I was going to run for city-parish president in 2040, I could put up signs right now.”

Conque said the best strategy would be to re-tool the entire sign ordinance, not only the political sign restrictions, and develop regulations the city could enforce without worrying about repeated constitutional challenges.

Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who proposed the changes to the sign law, said Wednesday he is open to revisiting the issue but feels political sign regulations need to be addressed immediately, considering there are several active races this fall and campaign signs are already out.

In addition to doing away with the 90-day window to campaign signs, the proposed changes would also raise the size limitations of signs in residential areas from 8 square feet to 32 square feet.

Both the time limit and the size restriction had raised constitutional questions.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com



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