Ask a Cop: Illegally Posted Traffic Signs

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Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email Shannon.burkey@patch.com.


What are the laws regarding unofficial traffic-directing signs placed on public streets by private citizens? Locally, we often see people place their own "street signs" up, be it "private parking only" on the street in front of their house, handmade signs on back streets saying "SLOW - driveway ahead," or the recent placement of cardboard signs reading "CAUTION LOG TRUCK" on roads throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Frequently, these signs attempt to place extra restrictions on travel ("slow," "no parking") that seem to be beyond the jurisdiction of some neighbor who feels like putting up a sign. And as other signs degrade (like the "log trucks" signs around the county), they become eyesores– fading garbage nailed at eye level along our scenic byways. What are the rules on this? Who is authorized to put up a sign? What are they authorized to put on that sign? And if we find illegal/unauthorized signs, what can we do to have them removed? 


California Vehicle Code section 21465 states, "No person shall place, maintain, or display upon, or in view of, any highway any unofficial sign, signal, device, or marking, or any sign, signal, device or marking which purports to be or is an imitation of, or resembles, an official traffic control device or which attempts to direct the movement of traffic or which hides from view any official traffic control device."

Another, perhaps more applicable section is 21467, "Every prohibited sign, signal, device, or light is a public nuisance, and the Department of Transportation, members of the California Highway Patrol, and local authorities are hereby authorized and empowered without notice to remove the same, or cause the same to be removed, or the Director of Transportation, the commissioner, or local authorities may bring an action as provided by law to abate such nuisance."

~Officer Sarah Jackson, California Highway Patrol

kristylynne September 27, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Well you called yourself a weirdo cause i think hand signals are a great thing, you know I use them all the time in my rundown gun carrying white trash truck :) And my neighbors actually have the bad rap because they let their dogs bark all day and in the wee morning hours. Whats with you and all this sharing ...maybe you dont share enough and are projecting it on me silly. And by the way i live on a OFFICIAL private drive thank you.
Watzon McWats September 27, 2012 at 01:22 AM
California Vehicle Code 490 and 670 provide an exemption for human powered vehicles to use private roads and driveways without recourse, so it's not the bike riding that I'm worrying about. And it's also not the REAL private roads that I'm concerned with, it's the fake ones. I've seen jankey home made "private road" signs up on the rural eastern stretches of Summit Road while exploring the mountains by car, and plenty of the little public dead end streets in the mountains have those or "resident traffic only" signs. The fake no-parking signs and red curbs (which really read, no parking, unless you're the guy that put up the sign or painted the curb), can be found all the way from the beach to the hills. If you live on a legitimate private drive, then I'm not sure what your concern is? Put up all the signs you want.
Watzon McWats September 27, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Sharing is caring.
Dana Caffrey September 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM
I am always annoyed when a car is parked in front of my house. I'm thinking of posting a NO PARKING sign in front of my house, do you think it is okay? It would be nice if the police will allow me to do so. http://www.trafficsignpro.com/
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