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campaign signs in ECR median ok?!

Original post made by k, Duveneck/St. Francis, on Oct 19, 2007

Driving down El Camino Real this morning I saw multiple campaign signs for one city candidate in the center landscaped median. Is this legal? It certainly looked awful, blighting the landscape, and I don't appreciate a candidate doing this. The direction I was driving was from Churchill towards Charleston. I don't know if these signs are visible from the other direction.

Comments (18)

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Posted by Alex
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:17 pm

No, all yard signs should be posted on private property. Unfortunately when one candidate's campaign committee starts posting signs on either City or State property other campaign committees think they can do the same.

In the past City staff have removed yard signs on City property after they receive many complaints. El Camino is State owned, so I don't know if they have the staff to clean up the illegally posted signs.

Just don't vote for the owners of the signs.

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Posted by perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

"Just don't vote for the owners of the signs."
That's weird. A candidate may possess most all of the qualifications you're looking for, and align with your political views, too. But if someone on their campaign team puts signs in inappropriate places, you'd withdraw your support?
BTW, I'm not defending those signs. I think they're obnoxious. But all they tell me is that either 1) he's not aware of them, or 2) he doesn't have a problem with them whereas I do. It doesn't tell me whether I ought to vote for or against him.

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Posted by blight avoider
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Maybe all candidates should have their campaign volunteers take down any errant signs to avoid losing votes!

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Posted by Adam
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm

If it is illegal to post campaign signs on city, county or state property, every candidate should tell those working on their campaign to remove his or her signs from government property.

If this is not done, this gives an indication of their respect for the law. This would be a reason to reconsider voting for that candidate no matter their other qualifications.

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Posted by not affiliated with any campaign
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:49 pm

It's not only not legal, but in fact all candidates have to sign something when they file their papers indicating that they are aware of the regulations regarding placement of campaign signage, and that they will ensure that those working for their campaign follow the rules. Any use of the public right of way is expressly forbidden.

I've seen the signs in question -- at least 4. There's another one on upper Page Mill Road on the way to Foothill Park (near where this candidate lives, by the way).

It is extremely unlikely that "someone in their campaign team" just happened to put signs on high volume roads like these. Scrupulous candidates keep meticulous records of where signs are placed, and also ensure that all signs are removed immediately after the election.

These are the symptoms of a candidate who can't find enough residents willing to put his signs in their yards, isn't getting endorsements and thinks that somehow putting his name in big letters in people's faces is going to make a difference.

Report violations by sending an email to and asking for enforcement -- give specific locations. Or just pull the signs out and leave them on the ground -- that's not illegal.

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Posted by Voter
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 20, 2007 at 6:52 am

Notice to candidates running for PA City Council or School Board.

These blogs should be a warning to you, get your yard signs off City, County and State property, they are illegally posted and you are violating the law. Post your yard signs on private property only. Anyone posting signs illegally runs the risk of losing votes.

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Posted by Mark Nadim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 20, 2007 at 3:25 pm


Let me start by saying that the signs I posted are perfectly legal, I was given the form for requesting the signs to be posted on ECR by the City Clerk, and I filled out the form and submitted it to the

Department of Transportation
Division of Traffic Operations
Outdoor Advertising Branch

in Sacramento, and I included the number of signs that I was planning on placing on ECR, and taking the responsibility of removing them within 10 days after the elections. County roads like Oregon Expressway have similar regulations that allow political signs during the campaign months.

It was suggested to me that I blame it on a supporter of mine, but I take full responsibility for these signs.

Having said that, and having heard your comments, I will remove the signs tomorrow Sunday, because I am tied up today Saturday. I am doing this just because I listen to what people say, and if you are thinking about voting for me, you will be assured that I will be listening to your concerns.

Best regards

Mark Nadim

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Posted by perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Thank you, Mark.
I stand by my earlier position: having signs on ERC doesn't tell me whether to vote for a candidate or not. The amount of jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of candidates (and people in general) is really tiresome. I commend you for posting here, and being willing to take down your signs even though they're legal.

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Posted by poster
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm

I agree with the Nadim poster sign in the El Camino and it is a great idea. This is legal and I hoped to see other candidates to put it there too.
Why are you so upset about the process of freedom of expression???


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Posted by Mark Nadim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 21, 2007 at 6:12 pm

After I wrote my response to your comments yesterday, I talked to my campaign committee and some of my supporters who did not agree with my response. We discussed this issue for several hours and thought about this discussion for several more hours last night. We reached a conclusion that these signs should stay on ECR.

We did our homework to make sure that it is legal to place these signs. The state allows candidates to post their signs on state highways like ECR. Here is a link to the California Department of Transportation,

Web Link

Here is a link to the County of Santa Clara Zoning Ordinance, paragraph 4.40.100 which allows political signs on County Roads like Oregon Expressway and Page Mill Rd.,

Web Link

It is unfortunate that all of you started firing away that these signs were illegal without doing your research. As I mentioned the form for placing signs on ECR was part of the package I received from the City of Palo Alto.

Alex suggested not voting for candidates because of the signs. I fully respect that decision, but is that the right way to vote for, or vote against a candidate? It seems to me that there are far more important issues the city is facing that the candidate should be questioned about his position to such issues to make an intelligent choice. May be this was the way we have been selecting council members which is the reason city is in such state. Basically the quality of life in Palo Alto is not what it used to be 20 years ago. We were the most advanced city in the bay area, with innovative ideas like the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, and the planning of Midtown with its bike paths that led to schools etc. What have we done in the past 30 years that was innovative and set us apart from other cities? The only thing that is still keeping our city at the forefront is our schools and the city council has nothing to brag about schools.

I expected to receive lots of emails asking about my position on issues, so far I have received a handful; it is disappointing that most people do not focus on issues when selecting a council member, but instead we get ourselves in endless discussions about minor issues. The main issues we have are not where to place signs but,

- Infrastructure that is in dire need of an upgrade and repair;
- ABAG “recommendation” of adding over 2800 housing units;
- Current developments that are taking over our retail space like what is on old Rickey’s Hyatt and Alma Plaza;
- Current proposals of taxing our retail businesses that are struggling to survive;
- City expenses which are much higher than other cities of comparable size and services;
- Open space that we are not able to afford to protect it from fire and other uses,
- Traffic that is choking our streets;
- Even the barely available public transportation is being cut back even further.

So if you think that ECR signs are more important that the above issues, then Palo Alto is in real trouble.

Best regards

Mark Nadim

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Posted by Adam
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 21, 2007 at 11:07 pm

Thank you Mr. Nadim for clarifying the placement of political signs on state and county property. Since it is legal to place the signs, you have done the right thing by keeping them in place.

There will always be some who enjoy throwing stones without knowing the facts. Fortunately they are few.

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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:09 am

"all of you started firing away that these signs were illegal..."

When I posted this thread NO WHERE did I write this was illegal, I merely questioned about it, and it was a legitimate question.

I see no other candidate with signs, much less multiple signs, on the ECR median. I still find them a blight, and apparently some others agree with me.

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Posted by Mark Nadim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:18 am

I apologize about the all inclusive statement.

Could the reason be that other candidates did not research this thoroughly? I am sure everyone received the same form when they pulled the papers from the City. I read the regulation more than once just to make sure I did not miss anything.

This is the "Logical and Analytical" person in me. I look into every aspect of any issue I tackle.


Mark Nadim

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:17 pm

"I am gonna take them down"

"I am not gonna take them down"

A flip-flopper??? Who'd-a-thunk-it?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:44 pm


I happen to think you have made the right call here. If people are upset by the signs and think it is wrong then they are uninformed. They may of course make their voting decision on this alone, which is sad for you and also for all of us as I would rather people make their decisions on the real issues. For you to have done an about turn and removed the signs after rechecking the legality of this, then it would have shown a weakness and lack of backbone which I do not think you have. In fact, I now think more of you for your decision to do something outside the norm.

Provided the signs are all moved as soon as the election is over then I say fine, get back to the serious campaigning and stop worrying about nitpickers.

PS. There was a great Masterpiece Theater on PBS last night about a hypothetical election in Britain where a complete outsider won. It was a hoot and gave all sorts of insights into democracy. I recommend it as complete light relief to all our candidates and their teams getting election fatigue!!!

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Posted by Do it right in the right-of-way
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Mark -

I used your link to the Caltrans Political Signs webpage, and found that the linked page states,

"TEMPORARY POLITICAL SIGNS SHALL NOT BE PLACED WITHIN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF ANY HIGHWAY, or be visible within 660 feet from the edge of the right-of-way of a classified "Landscaped freeway". "State law directs the Department of Transportation to remove unauthorized Temporary Political Signs and bill the responsible party for their removal."

It is my understanding that the median (where your signs are posted) is within the right-of-way. I've never before seen a local campaign sign posted on the median of El Camino; could it be that you've got more homework to do?

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Posted by Mark Nadim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 23, 2007 at 6:52 am

Do it right in the right-of-way

ECR is not classified as a "Landscaped freeway". The median is not right-of-way.

Are we going to keep wasting energy on this minor issue?


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Posted by Alex
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 23, 2007 at 8:36 am

There is a very good reason why no other candidates for either City Council or School Board have posted their yard signs on ECR. It is nice to know that if the State removes Mr. Nadim's signs, he will have to pay for the removal.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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