Gail Davidson was surprised when a uniformed DeKalb County watershed department employee walked into her yard June 19 and told her to move her political campaign sign backing the proposed city of Brookhaven.

“It was very shocking, I have to say,” she said later that day. “If I have not been standing right in my front yard, he was going to take every one of the signs he thought was in the country right of way and dispose of them.”

Instead, the workman told her to move the sign farther from the street. It was posted between the sidewalk and curb, he said, and the county says that’s a sign-free zone.

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan says sign removal is nothing new.

The county instructs workers who are on the job to enforce county regulations against posting signs in county rights of way.

Neighborhood groups and residents regularly complain about sign clutter, he said, and county officials respond by collecting illegally-placed signs.

County workers collect all kinds of signs, not just ones that take any particular political point of view, he said.

“It’s not what the sign says, it’s where it’s located,” Brennan said. “We have had a number of complaints from people who say the county is picking up some kind of sign. I guarantee you the people [working] out in DeKalb County are more concerned about doing a good job than what’s on somebody’s sign.”

The width of a road’s right of way varies based on the size of the road. And sidewalks come with rights of way, too, he said, so that can add to the distance a yard sign should be placed from the street to avoid being added to the county’s collection.

A good rule of thumb for a neighborhood street, he said, is to place the sign at least 15 feet from the curb.

“As long as you have it in the middle of your yard, you’re fine,” he said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.