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All signs — including political — are required to obtain permits

Mike Bloomberg campaign sign in American Samoa
New signage enforcement presents more questions than answers

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG Dept. of Commerce plans to call a meeting with representatives from all political campaign camps to discuss the government requirement for obtaining a permit in accordance with local law, which regulates signage.

Many political signs have been around since late last year, especially for the gubernatorial race. And in past election years, political signs become the norm for the local election.

However, Samoa News received information early this week that ASG is or will be requiring candidates for public office in the 2020 election, to obtain a permit in order to put up a political campaign sign.

And early yesterday morning, a supporter of a possible candidate for office informed Samoa News that Commerce director Fuiavaili’ili Keniseli Lafaele was on KVZK-TV on Wednesday explaining the requirement of obtaining a permit for political campaign signage,  and it is at the direction of the governor that this law be enforced.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Fuiavaili’ili explained what he said on the KVZK-TV program. And that is the Lolo administration had started the enforcement of the signage law — political campaign signage aside — and, as a result, “you don't see unregulated, un-permitted signage or remains of signage along the road… a part of the roadside scenery in the past.”

“When political campaign signage started appearing indiscriminately including those on government land and violating the signage law as well as highway regulations — distance of signage from the road/ side walk, the Department of Commerce decided to enforce the signage law this year and thereafter,” he told Samoa News yesterday.

Among Samoa News questions posed to the DOC director: if DOC is now requiring political campaigns to obtain a permit before erecting a political sign, and if so, which provision of the law, requires that these types of signs require a permit?

He was also asked when this particular law became effective? Additionally, why such a law is now being enforced during the last year of the Lolo Administration?

“This isn't an effort to target a particular political campaign camp — as all have signs violating the signage law, but to bring rhyme and reason to the issue of political signage in the Territory and maintain the natural beauty of our island home,” Fuiavaili’ili said.

He explained key points of the law that regulate signage as presented on the TV program:

•    prohibited signage needs a special permit approved by government

•     signs are not to detract or interfere with the natural beauty and attractiveness of American Samoa

•     not to interfere with traffic or pose a safety hazard

•     not indiscriminately issued, signage must have purpose and worth

He said a meeting will be called with representatives from all political campaign camps to discuss the subject matter including specific questions posed by Samoa News regarding permitting, fees and existing signage.

“The public will be informed in due course,” he said.

Among questions posed with the DOC director — are permits required only for signs erected on ASG property or also on privately owned land along the road and in other land inland?