District takes aim at illegal banners

Youth sports teams will have to rein in signs on school property

Members of the Mountain View Whisman school district board discussed placing tighter restrictions on banners promoting youth sports in non-certified public spaces during a school district board meeting Jan. 23. A vote on the topic is set for the Feb. 6 board meeting.

The banners in question are used by local baseball, softball and soccer teams to advertise season registrations. However, the banners are often placed in non-certified public spaces, most commonly on fences outside schools.

"When you see a Little League banner on the fence of a school, it is hung illegally," said Superintendent Craig Goldman during the district meeting. "And, actually, it has been hung illegally by an organization that knows it's not allowed."

The city of Mountain View approved a policy last October mandating that youth sports organizations hang banners in only three designated areas: Eagle Park, Rengstorff Park, and McKelvey Field. The same policy requires the groups to give their banners to city staff to hang in designated areas and remove after eight weeks.

However, this policy is not always respected. School board trustee Steve Nelson said during the meeting,"I live outside Bubb School and I can tell you that, at Little League time, there are banners up there. But as a property owner and someone who has not always been involved in Little League, it doesn't really bother me."

Any illegal hanging of banners outside this policy is "a burden on maintenance staff and a burden on city staff," said Goldman. "If banners aren't (legally hung), they are left up there long after registration."

Goldman proposed during the meeting that the city and the school district jointly add Slater School (along Whisman Road) and Crittenden Middle School (along Middlefield Road) as two additional legal locations for the banners.

Slater and Crittenden were identified by the city as strategic locations with high visibility to passing traffic.

The school district board was largely receptive to the idea and is set to make a decision at its next meeting Feb. 6.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

"Illegal" is such a harsh term. Could we please substitute "Undocumented" in its place?

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

Who cares?

Like this comment
Posted by Randy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Why does the school district want kids to not play sports? What is the big deal with hanging banners to let kids know about the various options. Several years ago Goldman decreed that YSOs could no longer give handouts to kids at no banners. What gives?

Like this comment
Posted by Randy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Why does the school district want kids to not play sports? What is the big deal with hanging banners to let kids know about the various options. Several years ago Goldman decreed that YSOs could no longer give handouts to kids at no banners. What gives?

Like this comment
Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Dumb use of their time. Complaining because local youth sports groups want to get their information to kids where the kids will see it. Next thing you know he'll be charging Boy and Girl Scout troops to use their rooms after school for their meetings; whoops, they already do!

Like this comment
Posted by Paul Lynch
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Illegal is a strong word for this type of misdemeanor Steve, however hanging banners anywhere else than the 3 designated sites, does break the new policy and city code. Little League is guilty for sure. They were part of the 2 year collaborative effort between the Parks and Recreation Department, the Parks and Rec. Commissioners & Youth Sports Organizations (YSO’s), to get “city approval” of a new field use and banners policy. However in their defense, it is difficult for YSOs to police the activities of all of its volunteers; some volunteers are more zealous than others and in the highly competitive world of youth sports, it’s standard practice to ask for forgiveness rather than permission!!

Why do I know a lot about this topic……because 2 years ago, I was on the receiving end of a potential citation for trying to promote my youth rugby program ( with banners in MV! Web Link.

However I now appreciate that I was wrong and I now understand that we need to have limitations on what is hung where, when and for how long if we are to maintain the attractive character of our beautiful city. And so this probably answers Greg's question - yes it does matter and yes we should all care. Mountain View is a city that we should be proud of and cherish.

I actually applaud Craig Goldman for suggesting another two additional sites for hanging banners. I support Craig’s idea because the ability of YSOs to communicate to their target audience has been significantly curtailed in recent years by new practices adopted by the MVWSD! Randy is correct, YSOs are unable to distribute (hard copy or electronic) flyers in schools newsletters to inform parents about “non-school related” activities.

The schools district does provide an area on its web site to allow the communication of information about YSO activities. While this web site function (Public Service Announcements) is very well managed by MVWSD staff, it makes a grossly erroneous assumption that all families have ready access to the web. In reality some sections of community who could most benefit from information about YSOs, are actually the ones who miss out. So additional sites to hang banners would be most welcome while the MVWSD has a rethink their current exclusion policy.

I get the argument about “going green” and reducing the use of paper – we should all want to reduce the impact we are having on the environment; however the current solution deprives parents of making informed choices for their children and that’s never a good idea!

YSOs (AYSO, MVLA, Little League, AYRU etc) play a key role in our community. They reinforce the key life skills such as teamwork and leadership that our school teachers try to instill in our youth. In addition, in AYRU, we emphasize the importance of having respect for seniors and figures of authority (referees and coaches) – a feature that is sadly missing from most youth sports today.

More importantly, YSO’s support the efforts of PE teachers by encouraging children to lead healthy life styles, to keep fit, stay away from drugs of abuse and avoid the perils of obesity. However it is clear that even in our prosperous city we (collectively) are falling short of this responsibility as highlighted by this report Web Link.

Maybe it is time for all the key stakeholders who have responsibility for the education and well being our youth, to take a fresh look at their remit and analyze the results produced by their collective efforts. Just for one crazy moment, let’s toy with the idea that, rather than restrict opportunities for YSOs to communicate with the MV community, we should instead proactively facilitate their attempts to inform parents and kids. We may find ourselves in the curious position where the benefits of playing youth sport can be enjoyed by all sections of our wonderful city.

Like this comment
Posted by Cuesta mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

Why not add all school locations as "legal" locations -- and have the sport orgs pay the city to put banners up and take them down? Doesn't the city mow the park areas of every school in town? Couldn't the people who come to mow have a schedule of which banners should be up for particular dates? Take down any that are not on the list. The youth sports orgs can pay the cost of this additional work and of course they will pay to print the banners.

The best way for families to know what youth sports are offered and when you need to sign your kid up is by having that info highly visible at their school sites. This is particularly true for families who may not be on email or parenting/neighborhood online groups. I would have never known when I needed to sign my kid up for soccer except that I saw a banner at her elementary school before she started kindergarten. That is no longer allowed.

Having youth sports banners up around town also reminds all of us what a wonderful variety of opportunities available to kids in our city. Perhaps the city could confirm that all youth sport orgs also offer scholarships to kids on free/reduced price lunches if those groups are allowed to have banners at public school sites?

Like this comment
Posted by Wo Of Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 6:52 am

Wo Of Ideafarm is a registered user.

clue: First Amendment... freedom of speech... foundation of our system of self government... civic speech = the most valuable form of speech ... parks: public forum ... strict scrutiny... "narrowly tailored to serve substantial government interess" ... etc. etc. ....

The aesthetic character of a city is important, especially to property owners. But for civic speech in a public forum, the freedom to speak and to hear what anyone would speak trumps aesthetics. The ordinance being discussed almost certainly is unconstitutional.

Like this comment
Posted by Marc
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

Dear School-District Board,

you are saying that you guys have nothing more important to discuss?
This is the most important issue at hand? It's a critical issue??

Who cares if those posters are hung legally or illegally?

You make a fine mockery of yourself by announcing you are wasting your time on this!

Also: there is the 1st Amendment - you remember that?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Food Party! 420
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,554 views

What Are Your Gifts that Must Be Shared?
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 644 views


Best Of Mountain View ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Mountain View" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Mountain View Voice.