11 comments

    1. Paint it move. You agreed to the guidelines when you moved in

      Plus, it’s looks like blight. Your neighbors don’t deserve this.

  1. We have a Black Lives Matter sign in our front yard and I support the sentiment on the fence 100%. Nevertheless, I agree with the city ordinance. While I love seeing public expressions of ideas I agree with I would HATE to have to live next door to a fence in support of the KKK. If you allow one, you have to accept the other. Keep the ordinance.

    1. Maureen: The challenge is that in some ways we already allow this. Just as you have a Black Lives Matter yard sign, your neighbor could put up a KKK sign in their yard. Perfectly legal. But it hasn’t happened. So why would it happen if we up the stakes to a fence instead of a yard sign? Or to put it another way, right now someone can put up a KKK yard sign next door to you. Why are we allowing that to happen?

      The answer I think in both cases is social pressure. It’s admittedly not a perfect answer, but that’s why there aren’t KKK yard signs around town and it’s why I think there wouldn’t be KKK murals if we changed the ordinance.

  2. This article seems rather short sided and Pollyannic to me. These codes aren’t in place to oppress art, free speech or to dominate the masses. It has little to do with hate messages. There are always people who want to push the boundaries of good taste, do things just to get a reaction or out of spite. If my neighbor painted “F- Nazis” on their fence, even if I agree with the sentiment, I wouldn’t want to live next to it. The city can’t be the arbiter of what is or isnt art, they would waste a lot of resources on lawsuits. A blanket code is the obvious solution, unfortunately that includes positive messages. As the writer points there are many murals on the west side, so art isnt being restricted, but crass or obscene words and images are.

    1. Let’s be clear: There are murals on the West Side because St. Paul doesn’t have the same ordinances as West St. Paul. St. Paul allows “all,” while West St. Paul allows “none.”

  3. Kevin – West St. Paul city ordinance allows one sign per yard, with no restriction on message. Do you happen to know if there is a size restriction to this rule? What’s to stop someone from making a sign that is almost as big as a fence and putting that in their yard?

    1. Oh yes, there absolutely is a size rule. I believe it’s no more than six square feet (so three feet by two feet). The City Council did discuss increasing the size at a recent meeting, but there wasn’t much support. There are also plenty of other limitations, so if people want to play ‘what if,’ it’s probably covered in the ordinance.

  4. I appreciate the owners’ creativity and agree with their activist goals but I think they need to think harder about how they can turn the attention they are getting into something that doesn’t violate city code, puts hard working civil servants in an awkward position, and unites neighbors rather than divide them.

    For example, rather than paint the fence over, or putting it into a landfill, perhaps the owners could auction off boards or sections to raise money for the Southern Poverty Law Center or other similar civil rights organizations. I’d participate in something like that.

    On a more practical note, we have that exact same style of batten board fence and it is a major hassle to stain or paint and painted fences typically don’t age well.

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