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Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email Shannon.email@example.com.
What are the laws regarding unofficial traffic-directing signs placed on public streets by private citizens? Locally, we often see people place their own "street signs" up, be it "private parking only" on the street in front of their house, handmade signs on back streets saying "SLOW - driveway ahead," or the recent placement of cardboard signs reading "CAUTION LOG TRUCK" on roads throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Frequently, these signs attempt to place extra restrictions on travel ("slow," "no parking") that seem to be beyond the jurisdiction of some neighbor who feels like putting up a sign. And as other signs degrade (like the "log trucks" signs around the county), they become eyesores– fading garbage nailed at eye level along our scenic byways. What are the rules on this? Who is authorized to put up a sign? What are they authorized to put on that sign? And if we find illegal/unauthorized signs, what can we do to have them removed?
California Vehicle Code section 21465 states, "No person shall place, maintain, or display upon, or in view of, any highway any unofficial sign, signal, device, or marking, or any sign, signal, device or marking which purports to be or is an imitation of, or resembles, an official traffic control device or which attempts to direct the movement of traffic or which hides from view any official traffic control device."
Another, perhaps more applicable section is 21467, "Every prohibited sign, signal, device, or light is a public nuisance, and the Department of Transportation, members of the California Highway Patrol, and local authorities are hereby authorized and empowered without notice to remove the same, or cause the same to be removed, or the Director of Transportation, the commissioner, or local authorities may bring an action as provided by law to abate such nuisance."
~Officer Sarah Jackson, California Highway Patrol