10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

The Grand Terrace City Council is looking to lift restrictions on the posting of campaign signs.

The council voted July 12 to give preliminary approval to a new city ordinance regulating political signs. Final approval will come with its second reading, as early as Tuesday.

The changes were made at the urging of the city attorney, who said the current rules violate First Amendment rights by limiting length of time signs are posted and their height and requiring a city permit to put them up.

The new ordinance would repeal provisions enacted in 1990.

Those provisions forbid candidates from posting signs earlier than 30 days before an election, limit the signs’ overall height to 6 feet above grade, and require candidates to obtain a permit that includes a map showing the sign’s location.

A $50 permit fee required by the ordinance “would restrict persons that were not able to pay the fee,” Community and Economic Development Director Joyce Powers wrote in a report to the council.

Court rulings since the current ordinance was adopted suggest that Grand Terrace’s rules could be successfully challenged in court, the report said.

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