Court orders clarification on campaign advertising

State Department of Transportation officials have been ordered to clarify how laws restricting outdoor advertising will be applied during the current campaign season to political signs within and outside of state highway rights of way.

The Alaska Superior Court on Sept. 10 directed that unauthorized signs within state highway rights of way, including both commercial and political signs, remain illegal under AS 19.25.75-180, and said any sign placed within a state highway right of way may be removed by DOT without prior notice.

Small, temporary political campaign signs no larger than four by eight feet may be displayed on private property adjacent to state highway rights of way by owners or occupants of that property, provided they have not been paid to display those signs.

All signs that pose a safety concern to roadway users will be subject to removal by DOT regardless of the content of the signs or whether they are located on private property.

Alaska residents vote overwhelmingly in 1998 to keep the state free of outdoor advertising both within and along state public rights of way. State statutes and regulations address unauthorized signs, including those on parked vehicles and some signs on private property. Those statutes and regulations remain in full force and effect, except for small, temporary, political campaign signs permitted by the court’s order outside highway rights of way.