Sign of the times

By Keith Sheffield, Bonanza Staff Writer

A candidate's name recognition efforts during an election year often mark a sign of the political times.

Almost a month ago, campaign signs for candidates in a number of different election races sprouted up here in Incline Village. Many are placed along Country Club Drive and Village Boulevard, and some sit near the Mount Rose Highway.

Now, the signs are the first thing to become an issue for the 2000 election.

"They're not where they're supposed to be," said Don Epstein, an Incline resident.

Most campaign signs seen around Incline are placed on the roadsides near major traffic ways - places where the signs will be seen by a lot of people.

Epstein voiced his concerns about campaign signs at last week's Incline Village General Improvement District board meeting.

"I don't have a business in this town," he said. "But businesses in this town are bound by an ordinance."

Epstein, a former New York resident, said he doesn't want this community to look like a big city.

"I didn't move from the city of New York to live in Incline Village to have it look like the city of New York," he said.

The county does have a sign ordinance in place, but political signs are exempt from the ordinance, said Gene Oman, Incline branch manager for the county's building department.

"The ordinance does not include political signs," Oman said. "We can't do anything about the looks."

Campaign signs typically become a heated issue with every election, he said.

However, Nevada Department of Transportation does have a set of regulations for political signs that cite three Nevada Revised Statutes governing where campaign signs can be placed.

"The provisions prevent the placement of any advertising signs, including political signs within state highway right of way or roads which are owned or controlled by the Nevada Department of Transportation," an NDOT brochure stated.

Washoe County's Registrar of Voters office hands out the brochure to political candidates.

There are several campaign signs for different candidates placed near the Mount Rose Highway and Highway 28, which run through Incline.

Whether a campaign sign is placed illegally or legally near a Nevada highway "depends or where it's at," said Ron Pacheco, with NDOT's right of way division.

Pacheco added that the highway right of way on Mount Rose and Highway 28 vary.

"On Highway 28, it could be 65 feet on one side and 75 feet on the other," he said. "On 431 it could be 100 feet on either side.

Highway rights of way are established by the median of the highway, but that doesn't necessarily mean the road's yellow divider stripes mark where the median is.

Pacheco said the department of transportation wants to "make sure the signs don't block visibility."

"It's tough to police signs," he said. "We have inspectors who go out, but they inspect utility work and construction. If it's obvious, we'll pull it."

Pacheco added that most candidates comply with NDOT regulations.

If they don't, the signs get pulled and taken to the department road yards in Reno and Carson City.

"We'll hand out maps that show the right of way," he said.


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