The good news …
Our Just Say NO! to 1,000 houses on Ocean Beach signs did the job. Many thanks to the property owners who hosted them.
Over 10,000 people signed the Friends of Ocean Beach petition! The concerns of petition-signers will be conveyed both by our own submission to the independent commissioners and by the submission of the Hastings Council.
Mayor Yule and some of our Hastings Councillors applauded the petition campaign as an outstanding example of democracy in action.
But there’s a fly in the ointment.
The HDC bureaucracy considered the signs to be illegal, and so instructed us that they had to come down by March 4 (giving us two weeks warning notice). We’ve complied, getting more irritated even as we did so.
Obviously, the signs — all erected on private property with owners’ enthusiastic support — were central to the success of the exercise in democracy and free speech endorsed by our elected leaders.
Here’s the legal language we believe governs our situation:
Temporary Devices: means all signs established for the purpose of advertising a single forthcoming temporary event including garage sales; jubilees; the sale or auction of real estate; advertising of cultural, religious, educational, community and sporting events; and does not include advertising business activities. Such devices shall be erected for a period not exceeding three months.
We happen to think that signs informing citizens how to participate in a hugely significant public issue are as important as, say, signs encouraging us to visit a garage sale or a dinner theater performance or a pig roast.
We think of it as advertising a significant “community event.” Actually two “forthcoming temporary events” on specific dates — a Council decision to make a submission, and a deadline for each of us to make our own submissions regarding Ocean Beach.
So we’re inclined to press our case to the HDC. Not because we need more Ocean Beach petitions. But because of the “game rules” set for future public issue campaigns.
Helping citizens get involved in public affairs is laudable under most notions of democracy. Allowing private citizens to exercise their right of free speech — in this case by displaying signs of support — is also laudable under most notions of democracy.
The HDC is either serious about welcoming “democracy in action” (witness their outrage over the Health Board sacking, after all), or they’re blowing smoke.
We’ll find out soon.
Meantime, we hope you’ll enlist in the BayBuzz Sign Brigade. A day will come when we’ll need to rally public support or opposition on an issue. If you’d be willing to “host” a sign or maybe just put a decal on your car when the time comes (assuming, of course, we’re together on the issue), just send an email to: email@example.com
Tom & Mark