For years, Hamden’s zoning regulations specified the maximum size of political lawn signs and the time period that they could be posted. Under those regulations, lawn signs could be no more than two feet wide.
If you take a look at our current zoning regulations, you’ll see no mention of political lawn signs (except to note that they don’t require a permit). Instead, there is only one reference to lawn signs, and it’s not limited to political lawn signs; it says that the sign cannot be larger than four square feet.
The prior regulations also said that a political lawn sign could only be placed two weeks prior to the election, and must be taken down within 48 hours of election day. It turns out, that was unconstitutional, limiting a citizen’s free speech. However, both major parties in Hamden, for the past 10 years, have abided by what might be called a gentleman’s agreement that lawn signs wouldn’t be posted outside of that two week window. (One year, the Republican chair at the time called me, as Democratic chair, to ask if I would mind if his Republican mayoral candidate put up his lawn signs for the two weeks prior to the Democratic primary, pointing out that whichever candidate won the primary would have gotten two weeks of additional lawn sign exposure; we both laughed about it, and I said, why not?)
That gentleman’s agreement has been broken this year by the Republican candidate for mayor. If you drive around Hamden, you’ll see dozens of signs for the Republican candidate; to date, I’ve seen only one sign for Democratic Mayor Scott Jackson.
Should the Jackson campaign scrap the agreement that has kept Hamden a more attractive? Campaigns in other towns nearby seem sometimes to be year-round, with lawn signs sprouting months before election day. I applaud the Mayor’s campaign for delaying the inevitable, but I expect they’ve been besieged by requests for signs already.
I hope in future years, we can count on more gentlemanly conduct from the other side.