Clallam must compensate sign owners under code, judge rules
PORT ANGELES, WA-- A judge's recent ruling that invalidates part of Clallam County's sign code has sparked calls for a wholesale review of the controversial law and may cause changes even without a makeover.
Western U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton on May 23 ruled in a partial summary judgment that if the county's sign code requires removal of an existing sign, then the owner must be compensated under the Scenic Vistas Act.
The sign is owned by plaintiff Viacom Outdoor Inc. on property owned by plaintiffs A. J. and Kerry Webb on Highway 101.
The Scenic Vistas Act says sign owners must be paid compensation when a local ordinance requires an existing, nonconforming sign to be reduced in size.
``It's a taking, and when you take someone's livelihood away, then you need to compensate for that,'' said Jackson Smart, owner of Jackson Signs in Port Angeles for 22 years.
Judge rules against sign code
(Port Angeles) – A federal Judge has ruled against part of the Clallam County sign code.
As we first told you last week, Federal District Judge Ronald Leighton says the county must pay Viacom for ordering the company to tear down a billboard along highway 101.
Viacom was told it had to make a smaller billboard last year under the county’s new code.
The company eventually appealed to superior court, but the county asked to have it heard in federal court.
Under the ruling last week, the judge says the county’s order amounts to a "taking" and under the federal Scenic Vistas Act, the county should have to compensate the owner of the sign.
The judge says the amount of the compensation will have to be worked out during future proceedings.
It’s not known whether the county may appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals in San Francisco.
County commissioners could take up the matter as soon as this week.
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