Battle for SLO supervisor seat prompts illegal signs

April 16, 2014


A sitting San Luis Obispo County supervisor seeking to keep her seat has dozens of campaign signs placed on county and state property in violation of the law.

Typically, candidates get permission from supporters to place signs on private property. Campaign signs are not permitted on public lands such as parks or public right of ways like highway on-ramps.

Last week, supporters of Supervisor Caren Ray placed campaign signs on public property spanning much of southern San Luis Obispo County, where her district is located. Ray, whom Governor Jerry Brown appointed last year to fill a vacant seat on the board of supervisors, is running for election against Nipomo businesswoman Lynn Compton and Arroyo Grande real estate broker Mike Byrd. The district encompasses all of Nipomo and Oceano and some of Arroyo Grande.

Ray Freeway Sign

A Caren Ray sign next to Highway 101 in Nipomo

Dozens of Ray’s signs popped up in strategic South County locations, including along Tefft Street in Old Town Nipomo, Willow Road on the Nipomo Mesa and Los Berros Road in rural Arroyo Grande. Ray supporters also attached her signs to freeway fencing and next to on and off-ramps, a violation of state regulations.

Ray said Monday that her volunteers placed the signs in the public locations, and her campaign staff is deciding what to do about them.

“Some of our volunteers, it appears, got a little over zealous, and we’re figuring out what to do with them right now,” Ray said.

The state of California owns land adjacent to Highway 101 up and down the freeway, and Caltrans maintains the property. Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones said the agency has received a few complaints about political signs and that it would take down signs deemed in violation of the law.

The county, however, controls most of the right of ways on which Ray’s signs have been wrongly placed. County transportation planner Glenn Marshall said the county’s public works department received three complaints about political signs, prompting him to send a worker out Monday to investigate. The county worker found that each of the three candidates had signs placed in right of ways, Marshall said.

Compton said she never had any signs in right of ways.

“We have permission for every sign,” Compton said. “Every single one is on private property.”

Byrd said he briefly had several signs placed in Nipomo right of ways. A supporter of his positioned them next to Ray’s signs thinking it was legal to do so, Byrd said.


A Caren Ray sign next to a community park sign at a Nipomo intersection

“When he saw all of Caren’s, he assumed, she being a supervisor, that they were all in legal places,” Byrd said.

Less than a day later, the volunteer took down the signs, Byrd said.

In the past, the county has rounded up numerous political signs placed in right of ways and stored them in its road maintenance yard. It has been common practice to do so, Marshall said.

But, the county has made no indication yet that it plans to remove any of the signs currently standing in right of ways. On Monday, a public works employee sent an email to candidates reminding them of campaign sign regulations.

Before removing signs, the county sends candidates three notifications of code violations, Marshall said.

County code, however, only allows candidates to have signs standing in the 60 days leading up to the election, as well as the 14 days following. The 2014 primary election will take place on June 3.

Some supporters of Compton allege that Marshall is using his position to aid the campaign of Ray. As a county supervisor, Ray is one of the highest ranking officials in the agency in which Marshall is employed.

Marshall also serves as a member of the Grover Beach City Council. Last December, Marshall voted to boot Mayor Debbie Peterson from the county air pollution control district board after receiving pressure to do so from Supervisor Adam Hill, a close ally of Ray’s.

Marshall said he does not support candidates.

“I don’t support any candidate,” Marshall said. “I have never given any support to anyone ever.”

Compton Sign

A Lynn Compton sign in front of an Oceano home

While the county has not pressed the issue, many Compton signs also appear to violate code. A section of the county code restricts the size of signs placed in urban areas of unincorporated communities like Nipomo and Oceano. The code limits sign sizes to four square feet in residential areas and 16 square feet in commercial areas of those towns.

Compton has numerous 32-square-foot signs, many of which are in core areas of Oceano.

She said she would take the signs down if the county deems them out of compliance with code.

“If they are in violation, I will take them down immediately,” Compton said. “I want to follow the law.”

Marshall said the county has not investigated political sign sizes this election season.

Critics of Compton have also accused her of violating a little known state law restricting the placement of signs near highways. The code prohibits the placement of campaign signs within 660 of landscaped sections of freeways.

However, no area of Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo County south of the Arroyo Grande Village is designated a landscaped section, according to Caltrans.



“Some of our volunteers, it appears, got a little over zealous, and we’re figuring out what to do with them right now,” Ray said.

I hope the answer to that is pretty obvious especially for someone who wants to be in a position of power. Maybe supervisor is too difficult of a position for someone who cannot figure out that the correct answer is take the signs down and tell the volunteers not to do it anymore. What will Caren do if faced with a truly difficult decision, defer to the other supervisors. I for one prefer a more intelligent supervisor.


Three different responses.

Ray, yes she thinks a over zealous volunteer(s) did this and she is acting on it. Not clear what action is being taken. The signs may already been removed.

Byrd claims volunteer ingnorance. He is just following the path of someone else and look what happened. Sounds like he committed to removing the offending signs.

Compton, while saying she wants to follow the law also says she would only take them down if told to. So she is either claiming ignorance of the law or taking the position you can do anything until caught. At this point it would appear that Josh pointed it out so action should be expected. Even the picture shod a 32sf sign in front of a residence where 4sf are allowed.

FYI the max size in any of the village areas is 4sf per parcel on residential zoned land and 16 SF on commercial zoned land. Those areas are Oceano, Nipomo, and Palo Mesa. Compton has 32-64 SF of signs at every location where they are posted.


Noob’s mistake. Having been appointed to her prior (and current) seats, Ray has little experience with candidacy and elections.


Compton had her rolling billboards trolling major streets and highways well before the date that political signage is permissable.

An investment of that magnitude cannot be attributed to merely overzealous supporters.


Does that fact justify what Ray has done?


No, it does not anymore than Rays volunteers actions makes it ok for Compton’s crews to erect large commercial sized signs on property where the size limits are significantly smaller.


Paso_Guy, are you one of Compton’s many out of district/out of county financial supporters? What roll do you expect Compton to play for you up there should she be elected?


No, don’t give a whip about either candidate, just thought it wrong to justify someone’s bad behavior by comparing it to the other’s bad behavior. Both leave a lot to be desired.


This proving to be a tough room. When the civil ar breaks out I will be glad to be on th side of the armed.


“Some of our volunteers, it appears, got a little over zealous, and we’re figuring out what to do with them right now,” Ray said. Talk about a typical politicians answer.

She needs to form a committee, host a public forum, determine whether the signs were intended to be put on public land, have her lawyers review the statutes, and eventually do nothing until the election passes.

She’s got my vote!


“Marshall also serves as a member of the Grover Beach City Council. Last December, Marshall voted to boot Mayor Debbie Peterson from the county air pollution control district board after receiving pressure to do so from Supervisor Adam Hill, a close ally of Ray’s.”




you are being sarcastic about adam hills involvment in the debbie peterson case right. that slimebag has been trying to influence all actions in this county to his benefit. Fortunately his perverted behavior is finally getting some attention


SSSam: Adam’s behavior has received all sorts of attention, both here and elsewhere. What it gotten, is a reprimand from the voters. I could not explain why to save my life. Same with the North Coast supervisor. How the hell do these guys get away with it?


… what it HAS NOT gotten, is a reprimand from the voters.

(please excuse — my proofreading suffers when I am foaming at the mouth)


You have to love County pukolitic, it will take 3 notices and 60 days for the signs on County land to be removed. And when is the election. That should be reason enough when a sitting Supervisor will not abide by legal law and order.

Vote for anyone but Caren Ray, we don’t need anymore Adam Hill bad behavior patterns…. Another dirt bag!


Sorry, SLOBIRD, Teixiera broke all the rules when it came to large signs within the urban reserve lines in Nipomo and good rumor has it that he was coached by the same that are coaching Lynn Compton. Yet, Tex reported someone else who had small signs “in the right-away” when he was Supervisor and got them confiscated.

Take a look at Caren Ray’s actions on the BOS. She is excellent – she hit the ground running. What has Compton done for this County?


I bet she hit the ground running… Before careful, Dee, you may have competition. Just a little humor, everyone lighten up.


Say what?


Lynn Compton won’t step one pedicured toe in Oceano herself, but she has campaign signs the size of billboards there.

Oceano gets the shaft, yet again.


And no doubt Caren Ray has held a townhall meeting for the area she is currently representing, right? Could you please tell me when that meeting was, because I missed it! Thank you…


Caren Ray has attended many South County Advisory Meetings where Compton’s face has never been seen. She goes to take the pulse of her constituents and they appreciate her.

Texiera did not value the Council. His first move was to try to get rid of the democratically elected council that was to report to him any issues in the South County.

Guess you missed those meetings, too, huh, SLOBIRD?


No, I was looking for the Town Hall in Oceano specifically, not South County, as remarked by Adjury above. OCEANO not South County!!!


Unfortunately, Texiera never set up a Advisory Council for Oceano. He did get his campaign manager appointed as the District Managers for the OCSD however, which was really his priority, but we all know how that went. Hopefully, if Caren is elected to her appointed post she will be able to include Oceano in the South County Advisory Council as they do need representation…or help create a council in the City to report to her. Texiera just wanted to desolve the democratically elected council in the South, if you recall, and unfortunately Compton is being coached by Tex’s people who think the same way as he did.


A very good point that the south county should not lose track of. Paul tried to dissolve Nipomo’s voice and when he did not accomplish that he refused to fund the south county advisory groups. They were never heard during his time.

Compton presents her self as following Paul. So I guess Nipomo and the south county know what to expect.


Caren Ray says, “Some of our volunteers, it appears, got a little over zealous, and we’re figuring out what to do with them right now.”

With that statement, Caren Ray becomes the personification of a poor decision maker.

Oh, and Adam Hill is the one who championed her in Sacramento.

Just say no. To Caren Ray.

1 2 3