Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lafayette Crosses: Size Matters

In today's San Francisco Chronicle, we are informed that the Lafayette City Council will try to educate the public about the town regulations on the size of any sign which is not a memorial.

Residents of the usually quiet Contra Costa County city are expected to stage a lively debate regarding the merits of the display at a City Council meeting Monday evening, even as council members say their concern is limited to the proper size of the sign accompanying the white crosses.

"People are going to be able to talk about their feelings about free speech," Mayor Ivor Samson said. "(And) to express their view that you have a protest that's being carried out on the backs of our dead soldiers. You're going to hear all of that Monday evening."

The crosses and a sign reading "In Memory of 2,867 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq" have sparked strong reactions since they were erected earlier this month on a hillside overlooking the Lafayette BART Station and Highway 24.

The city gave memorial organizers a Nov. 20 deadline to take down the sign or replace it with a smaller one that conforms to signage rules. The organizers decided to keep the sign in place because they consider it to be part of the memorial, not just a public sign.

"Lafayette officials said the crosses are legal because city law exempts memorial and historic markers from the rules that restrict where signs can be erected and how big they can be. But they say the sign must conform to regulations, which call for nothing larger than 4 square feet -- roughly the size of a real estate for-sale sign. The memorial sign is about 64 square feet...Monday's meeting may disappoint some people who want resolution one way or the other to the larger issue of whether the memorial is appropriate, City Councilwoman Carol Federighi said.

Four square feet you say? That would be two feet by two feet? I thought I would take a cruise on Deerhill Road and see if there were any other signs. Sure enough I spotted this one.

Click to enlarge

Or how about this one?

Click to enlarge

Makes you wonder if, in Lafayette, free speech relating to commerce is more protected that political free speech. I don't think that is what the founders intended.

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