The Friendly City has long had one of the most restrictive election sign ordinances in Humboldt County, preventing residents from bedazzling their yards with political pleas until just 30 days prior to Election Day. The county allows signs 90 days prior.
But the Fortuna City Council will consider passing an urgency ordinance Monday that would suspend section 17.05.180(D)(1)(b) (the sign ordinance) of the city municipal code for six months, essentially allowing a signage free-for-all from now through November. Mayor Doug Strehl said he raised the issue at a prior council meeting and there was a consensus to bring the item back for a full discussion....
No city council seats are up for election this year. In fact, the only high-profile race Fortuna will have a hand in deciding is that for district attorney. So where do city council members’ allegiances lie in that particular race — the only local race that promises to be impacted by Monday’s decision? Glad you asked.
According to candidate webpages, Counsel Members Mike Losey, Sue Long and Tami Trent have all endorsed Maggie Fleming’s bid for the position. Councilman Dean Glaser has endorsed Allan Dollison’s campaign. Strehl has not publicly endorsed any of the four candidates vying for the position. So, it will be interesting to see where Monday’s discussion goes and if any candidate’s supporters make a concerted effort to show up and weigh in.
As to why the council is pursuing an urgency ordinance to suspend the sign rules instead of simply changing the ordinance, it takes a months-long public process to change a city ordinance. So, in order for any changes to take effect before the June primary, an urgency ordinance was the only option. In the backdrop of all this, there’s also a larger legal question....
◼ Earlier: GOOD NEWS! Sign Regs in Fortuna to be suspended for this election? UPDATED
One question regarding suspension is whether or not it will mean that candidates require a sign permit for each and every sign. The current ordinance exempts political signage from that onerous requirement.
The whole thing is ridiculous.
Suspend it now. Discuss and revise it later when you're out of the heat of the campaign.
And the ordinance has no teeth anyway.