Candidates Complain of Missing Signs

Candidates for Beverly Hills City Council are looking for a sign – or, more accurately, for their signs, which multiple candidates have said have gone missing in the closing weeks of the race.

Councilmember John Mirisch, who is running for his fourth term, said it felt like more signs had gone missing this year than in prior election cycles.

“It certainly feels that way, that signs have been disappearing from places where we know that the property owner gave permission to put them up,” he told the Courier.

But he added, “Signs are just one element of the campaign and hopefully people will focus on the issues.”

Similarly, Public Works Commissioner Sharona Nazarian said that some of her signs had disappeared almost as soon as they had been planted.

Planning Commission Chair Andy Licht told the Courier that more than 60 of his signs had gone missing in recent weeks. With the $80,000 spending limit he and the other candidates agreed to, stolen and missing signs means less money for other campaign expenditures, Licht said.

“Money that was going to be spent elsewhere will now be spent on more signs, which I find very unfair,” he said.

He adds that it also costs the campaign exposure and time.

“You’re missing impressions,” he said. “You miss those opportunities. You can’t get those days back. Those days are gone.”

The missing signs are not isolated to one area in particular, Licht says.

One supporter gave Licht permission to place signs on his property near the Beverly Hills Hotel, a high visibility area. He planted five signs, all of which disappeared by the next day. Licht replaced them and again, they went missing.

After a third attempt, they remained up. In that time, City Clerk Huma Ahmed sent an email to candidates explaining that “anyone caught stealing lawn signs may be prosecuted.”

Ahmed cited the California Penal Code, which specifically forbids the stealing, damaging, or moving of political signs “with the intent to prevent, substantially alter, or substantially obscure the communication of the sign.” First violations can be prosecuted as an infraction or misdemeanor, while second and subsequent convictions constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

The Beverly Hills Police Department told the Courier that it was aware of the issue.

Ahmed told the Courier that the problem was not unique to this election cycle.

“It happens every election. Signs get stolen,” she said. Ahmed speculated that the crowded field and tense political atmosphere may be contributing to the high number of signs disappearing.

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