LIVERMORE - Starting this weekend, one East Bay city is not allowing any more signs to be put up on public property - signs like those directing people to yard sales or kids' lemonade stands.
The city council first voted for the ban in December of 2022, right after the November election. The ban doesn't go into effect until July 1st - a Saturday and a popular day for open houses, but those signs are now banned too.
"The primary function is to lead consumers to homes for sale," says Sean Jackson. He's a lifelong Livermore resident and has been a real estate broker in the city for more than 15 years. He uses open house signs to advertise homes for sale, but starting Saturday, signs can only be put up on private property. Any signs on public property in Livermore are banned.
"It seems like an unnecessary widespread ban on things, where let's address the problem that's at hand," says Jackson.
The ban was first proposed after last year's election cycle, when council members said they got an overwhelming number of complaints about campaign signs on public property.
"We had hundreds and hundreds probably thousands of signs all over the community and it was just way too much," says longtime Livermore City Councilmember Bob Carling.
According to the city attorney, the ordinance can't ban signs based on their content, but city CAN enact a content neutral ban - prohibiting all signs on public property.
That includes signs about lost pets, upcoming community events, and signs advertising garage or yard sales - and yes, political signs too.
"For the few garage sale signs and so on and so forth, I think it's worth it. People pride themselves on Livermore being a clean and beautiful community and I think our downtown is the admiration of many," says Councilmember Carling.
But Sean Jackson warns about the unintended consequences that could hurt people trying to buy or sell a home, or others trying to get the word out about their small business.
"Advertisement costs go up. We've got to start spending more to get it out to the local consumer," says Jackson.
The council did make an exception for the downtown development district, where signs are still allowed on the sidewalks.
There are no fines for violating the ordinance. City workers will just take down unlawful signs.
Council members say if the ban creates unintended consequences, they could always vote to revise it or repeal it completely.
Other cities, like Berkeley, and more than a dozen in Southern California have similar sign bans on public property.
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