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DOC director: Noncompliance to signage laws is getting out of hand

DOC director Keniseli Lafaele [SN file photo]
Under the law, a special sign permit is required — they are enforcing

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With non-compliance with local signage laws “getting out of hand”, the Commerce Department has launched a public awareness campaign to educate all sectors of the community on local laws which regulate putting up signs or billboards, says DOC director Keniseli Lafaele.

The move comes amidst growing discussions in some sectors of the community as well as amongst lawmakers, who have questioned the legality of billboards or large signs erected at certain sites on island, including the Tafuna/ Airport Road stretch. Some concerns center on the large signs blocking the natural beauty of the island.

In a full-page paid advertising on Tuesday’s Samoa News edition, DOC points to local statute - A.S.C.A. Title 26 Chapter 5, “Except as otherwise allowed or permitted in this chapter, it is unlawful to erect, maintain, or display outdoors in American Samoa, any sign, including any billboard, ground sign, wall sign, roof sign, illuminated sign, projecting sign or display illustration, for the announcement or the advertisement of any business, product, service or event.”

For more information on how to obtain a special sign permit, contact DOC at 633-5155, notes the ad, which is in both Samoan and English, and cites the American Samoa Bar Association website ( as the place to find full details of the law.

The advertisement has captured the attention of some in the community, specifically the part that notes a “special sign permit”.

Asked for further explanation on the “special sign permit”, Lafaele told Samoa News that all prohibited signs per law need a special sign-permit. “Signage has important public and private purposes hence should be allowed, but regulated and controlled through permitting, otherwise the natural beauty of our territory would be compromised.”

As to why DOC paid for the ad in the newspaper, Lafaele explained that the “advertisement is part of our efforts to educate the public, business owners, NGOs, and government agencies about the law regulating signage in the territory.

“Next we will go on KVZK to explain the same,” he explained. “Non-compliance with the signage law abounds in the territory; thus the need to correct the situation as it is getting out of hand.”

Samoa News asked if DOC has any data on businesses or individuals violating the signage law.

“You drive from Utulei to Tafuna and you can see signage on roofs exceeding the highest point of a building, billboards constructed inches from the side walk, billboards constructed on the ocean side of the road, or ground signs placed on sidewalks  — all non-compliant with the signage regulation,” was Lafaele’s response.

Local statute - ASCA 26.0502 — allows for signs without permit — for example — any sign attached to, painted upon, or otherwise placed upon a building where the business announced or advertised is actually carried on, or the product announced or advertised is actually manufactured, assembled, or sold, or the service announced or advertised is actually available, or the event announced will actually take place.

No such sign may project higher than the highest point of the building, nor wider than the widest point of the building to which it is attached, it says.