City Says ‘Aggressive’ Workers Accidentally Removed Campaign Signs

After a spate of campaign signs were reported stolen this week, City Manager Jim Thorsen said city-contracted employees mistakenly removed dozens of “Yes on Measure R” signs from private properties throughout town.

Residents initially suspected an actual thief was responsible for taking the signs, but it appears the city is responsible for the recent removals.

Several signs advocating Craig Foster and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein for the Board of Education were also taken.

“The Public Works crew, which is a contract crew that we hire, was a little more aggressive than they should have been,” Thorsen said. “We instructed them to remove signs that were technically in the city’s right of way. We technically don’t pull those signs that are out beyond [homeowner] fences … but they got very aggressive and pulled many more.”

On Thursday, a city worker trucked at least 76 “Yes on Measure R” signs back to campaign organizer John Mazza, who is one of many residents irate over the city’s apparent snafu. 

“We’ve had many reports where they actually went behind people’s fences,” Mazza said. “I gave a lady six signs, put them on the other side of her fence and boom, they were gone.”

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Thorsen said this type of monitoring is common practice during election season, but the Public Works contractors went too far.

“We just typically go out and I believe we’ve got a couple new crew members who weren’t quite familiar with what we’ve done in the past,” he said.

As far as who orders sign removal and monitoring, Thorsen said both residents and public officials tend to alert the city when they believe signs have been wrongly placed.

“We get calls from not only council members but people in the public,” he said, “and the council members also receive calls and they’ll let me know we got complaints.”

According to Thorsen, the city monitors for campaign signs impeding on the public right of way, such as on roadway medians. Thorsen said candidates and Measure R proponents were not warned about possible sign removal this week. 

A large campaign sign was also allegedly taken from a fence on a privately owned parcel at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Zumirez Drive. Thorsen said that was a mistake.

“We’ve made sure our staff as well as crews from the Public Works Department know that’s actually owned by an individual,” Thorsen said.

Several other residents have sent in emails and online comments detailing the disappearances and routine “sweeps” for signs. 

“We had one sign stolen the day it was placed out near the street, I was so mad I replaced it and put up another one within our yard that would require someone to go into our yard and be very visibly ‘in the wrong place’ but it didn’t stop them. Stolen by the next afternoon (yesterday)!” one Point Dume resident said.

“They swept Point Dume again today,” another said in an email Thursday.

“I left my home at 12:30 p.m. [on Thursday],” another person wrote. “There were 10 signs on my block. 3:00 p.m. — gone.” 

13StarsManager
13StarsManagerhttps://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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