Chapter 15.60


15.60.010    Determining allowable sign area and height.

15.60.020    Placement, design, sign elements and maintenance.

15.60.030    Illumination of signs.

15.60.040    Sign removal or replacement.

15.60.010 Determining allowable sign area and height.

A.    Determining Allowable Sign Area.  The sign area allowed for a business or use based on primary business frontage or lineal street frontage shall be determined as follows:

1.    Business Frontage.  This is the lineal frontage of a business that abuts public street right-of-way or other area accessible to the public such as business frontage on a parking lot or parking structure generally open to the public, or on a publicly traveled waterway such as the Pacific Ocean.

2.    Primary Business Frontage.  Where a business has more than one business frontage, the longest single business frontage may be used to calculate the maximum allowable sign area.  The cumulative total of frontages shall not apply.

3.    Lineal Street Frontage.  This is the lineal distance that a parcel or parcels occupied by a business or businesses abuts a public street right-of-way.  This lineal distance will be used to calculate sign area for multiple tenant center signs and to determine additional business identification and/or multiple tenant center signs.

B.    Measurement of Sign Area.  The area of a sign shall be calculated by enclosing the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, or any fixture of similar character, together with any background, frame, material or color forming an integral part of the display within a single continuous perimeter composed of squares or rectangles with no more than eight lines drawn at right angles (see Figure 15.60-1); however, if the sign is composed of individual letters or symbols using the wall as the background with no added decoration, the total sign area shall be calculated as seventy-five percent of the area of any rectilinear geometric figure that encloses the extreme limits of the characters or symbols.


1.    Supporting framework or bracing that is clearly incidental to the display itself shall not be computed as sign area.

2.    Double-faced signs with back-to-back sign faces shall be regarded as a single-face sign if the distance between each sign face does not exceed two feet at any point.

3.    Where a sign contains three-dimensional objects (e.g., spheres, cubes, clusters of objects, sculpture, or statue-like objects), the sign area shall be measured as the maximum projection of the objects upon a single vertical plane.

4.    For signs that incorporate time and temperature devices or changeable copy, the area of these devices shall be included in the total area of the sign.

C.    Measurement of Sign Height.  Sign height shall be measured from the uppermost part of the sign used in determining the area of the sign to the lowest elevation at the base of the sign.  (Ord. C-2013-04 §9(part), 2013; Ord. C-3-10 §1(Exh. A(part)), 2010. Formerly 15.07.010).

15.60.020 Placement, design, sign elements and maintenance.

The placement, design and maintenance of a sign shall be subject to the following:

A.    Placement.  Signs shall be placed according to the following:

1.    Other than official government signs or warning signs required by law, no sign shall be placed in or upon median strips or islands, bridges, benches, traffic signals, utility poles, utility equipment, street lights, traffic signs, traffic sign posts or supporting structures, or on anchor wires or guy wires.  No sign may be cut, burned, marked or in any other manner displayed on a cliff, hillside or tree.

2.    No sign may be placed or located in such a manner as to constitute a safety hazard or to impede the public use of the public right-of-way, by factors including, but not limited to, sight distance and tripping hazard; and no sign shall be installed in such a manner that it blocks or impedes the normal pedestrian use of public sidewalks.

3.    Signs shall be installed in compliance with the most recent version of the California Building Code and of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4.    Signs installed at or near any street intersection, doorway or driveway may not obstruct the free and clear vision of drivers and pedestrians or present other hazards to drivers and pedestrians.

5.    No sign shall be erected in any manner where a portion of the sign or its supports would interfere with the free use of any fire escape, exit or standpipe, or obstruct any required stairway, door, ventilator, window, handicapped ramp or access, or required parking space.

6.    Double-faced electric signs shall have a minimum of four inches between faces.  The faces of such signs shall be fastened to an incombustible metal frame of such construction as to adequately support the sign faces.

7.    Wall Signs.  Signs placed flat against the building must be erected parallel thereto and the outside face of said sign may extend no more than eighteen inches from the wall of such building.  Said signs may project over a public right-of-way a distance not exceeding said eighteen-inch depth.

8.    Projecting and Hanging Signs.  Signs that hang or project outward from a building must provide a minimum of eight feet of clearance above the sidewalk or any pedestrian area. If they are placed over an alley or other right-of-way that may have vehicle traffic, they must provide a minimum of thirteen feet of clearance.  Such signs shall extend no more than five feet from a building and shall not extend within two feet of a curb or street.

9.    Projecting Signs.  All projecting signs must be double-faced except signs placed flat against a building or projecting V-shaped signs attached to a building at the open points of the V.

10.    All signs displaying commercial messages shall be located on the same site as the advertised use or product, except as otherwise permitted by the provisions of this title or the Outdoor Advertising Act as set forth in the California Business and Professions Code.

11.    A sign may be attached to the fascia of a sloping roof of a structure, but may not be located so as to extend above the upper edge of the fascia of said sloping roof.

B.    Design.  Signs shall consist of the following elements:

1.    Sign design shall be physically compatible with the building and surroundings.

2.    Any metal or reflective materials to be matte or nonglare surface.

3.    Materials used to construct the sign and support structures shall be high quality and durable.

4.    All transformers, equipment, programmers, and other related items shall be screened and/or painted to match the building or shall be concealed within the sign.

5.    All freestanding signs that incorporate lighting shall have underground utility service.

6.    All signs shall be constructed in compliance with any applicable building, electrical, or other code in effect at the time of construction or maintenance, with particular respect to wind and seismic loads and overturning moment.

7.    All temporary signs and banners shall be made of a material designed to maintain an attractive appearance for as long as the sign is displayed.

8.    Signs shall be designed in compliance with the most recent version of the California Building Code and of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

C.    Sign Elements.  A business identification sign or multiple tenant building or center identification sign may include a time/temperature display, changeable copy or electronic readerboard only as specifically provided by this section.

1.    Time and/or Temperature Displays.  A time and/or temperature display may be permitted as an integral component of a projecting sign or freestanding sign of at least twenty square feet provided it meets the following standards:

a.    The time and/or temperature display shall have a maximum area of ten square feet.

b.    The sign shall be designed in a manner that is compatible with other signs and with the structure on which it is placed.

2.    Changeable Copy Signs.  A changeable copy sign may be allowed as set forth below.

a.    Changeable copy signs may only be allowed as an integral component of a freestanding sign, projecting sign, marquee sign or wall sign that is larger than ten square feet, and either:

i.    In conjunction with facilities used exclusively for the presentation of cultural, religious or theatrical activities as allowed under Title 18 and limited to a maximum of twelve square feet of changeable copy; or

ii.    To advertise products, services, and prices in conjunction with a retail business and limited to a maximum of three square feet of changeable copy.

3.    Electronic Readerboard Signs.  An electronic readerboard may only be allowed on signs for civic and institutional uses as set forth below.

a.    The maximum sign area devoted to electronic readerboard on any sign shall not exceed sixteen square feet.

b.    The number of messages shall not exceed three.

c.    The static display time for each line of copy is a minimum of two seconds.

d.    The time to complete change from one message to the next is a maximum of two seconds.

e.    The change of message shall occur simultaneously for the entire sign face.

f.    The sign shall contain a default design that will freeze the device in one position if a malfunction occurs.

g.    The sign shall have no revolving, flashing, moving, rotating, or similar intermittent lights.

h.    The sign may be illuminated only during the user’s hours of operation and during functions and special events.

D.    Maintenance.  Signs shall be cleaned, updated, and/or repaired as necessary to maintain an attractive appearance and to ensure safe operation of the sign.  Unacceptable sign conditions include:  broken or missing sign faces, broken or missing letters, chipped or peeling paint, water damage, missing or inoperative lights, exposed mechanical or electrical components, missing or broken fasteners or other visible defects.  Failure to respond to a written request from the city to perform maintenance work is a violation of city code and shall result in a citation.  (Ord. C-2013-04 §9(part), 2013; Ord. C-9-11 §6(part), 2011; Ord. C-3-10 §1(Exh. A(part)), 2010. Formerly 15.07.020).

15.60.030 Illumination of signs.

A.    Illumination Standards.  The artificial illumination of signs, either from an internal or external source, shall be designed to avoid light spillage, nuisance, momentary blindness or other hazard, unreasonable brightness, glare, and to eliminate negative impacts on surrounding rights-of-way and properties.  The following standards shall apply to signs that may be illuminated:

1.    External light sources shall be directed and shielded to limit direct illumination of an object other than the sign.

2.    Signs shall not have exposed bulbs or lamps exceeding fifteen watts, and the brightness of luminous or backlighted signs shall not exceed two hundred fifty footlamberts.

3.    The light from an illuminated sign shall not be of an intensity or brightness that will create a negative impact on residential properties in direct line of sight to the sign and the light shall not be visible within seventy-five feet of any residential zoning district.  Internally illuminated signs visible from any residential zoning district shall not be illuminated between the hours of eleven p.m. and six a.m. unless they identify an establishment open for business during those hours.

4.    All illuminated signs shall be of such intensity or arranged in such a manner so as not to create glare for abutting properties or vehicular traffic.

5.    Signs shall not have blinking, flashing, or fluttering lights or other illumination devices that have a changing light intensity, brightness, direction or color, with the exception of time and/or temperature and electronic readerboard signs allowed pursuant to Section 15.60.020.

6.    Colored lights shall not be used at a location or in a manner so as to be confused or constructed as traffic control devices.

7.    Electrical raceways and conduits shall be placed so that they are not within public view.  Where this is physically impractical, or doing so would damage significant architectural features or materials, the community development director may grant a waiver of this requirement, provided all conduits, raceways, and similar devices are kept as small as possible and are painted the same colors as adjacent wall surfaces.

8.    Awnings with backlit text or graphics are not allowed.  Signs shall not be illuminated in a manner such that the awning appears to be internally illuminated.  Lighting directed downwards that does not illuminate the entire awning is allowed.

9.    For residential districts, the lighting shall not exceed one foot-candle.

10.    Light sources shall utilize energy efficient fixtures to the greatest extent possible.

B.    Type of Sign Illumination.  The type of sign illumination (if any) permitted is as specified in Chapter 15.50, and as otherwise set forth in this chapter.

1.    Halo-Type Illumination.  The light source is concealed behind an opaque face and the rays of illumination are projected outwards toward the edge of the sign, forming a “halo” effect around the exterior of the sign.

2.    Internal Illumination.  The light source is concealed entirely within a sign which makes sign graphics visible by transmitting light through a translucent or semitranslucent material.

3.    External, Indirect Illumination.  The light source is exposed and directed toward the sign face but is shielded or concealed from view with proper shields or glass lenses to avoid glare.  Examples of external illumination include gooseneck light fixtures and ground-mounted light fixtures.

4.    Reflective Illumination.  Illumination that is not fluorescent or electrically charged, but that responds to light, such as from passing vehicle headlights, by shining or glowing.

5.    Channel Letters.  Three-dimensional, individually cut letters or figures, internally illuminated, affixed to a structure.

6.    Neon.  Neon or other comparable visible discharge gas may be used only on nonresidential establishments and shall not exceed twenty-five percent of the sign face.  Neon sign components shall comply with the following:

a.    Neon signs and linear tubing shall be UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed with a maximum thirty milliamps per circuit and be designed to accommodate a dimmer in order to reduce the brightness of the neon.

b.    The neon manufacturer shall be registered with Underwriters Laboratories.

c.    Neon tubing shall not exceed one-half inch in diameter.

d.    Neon lighting adjacent to residential uses shall not exceed one-half foot-candle measured at the property line.

e.    Neon tubing shall not be combined with any reflective materials (e.g., highly glazed tiles, mirrors, polished metal, or other similar materials).

f.    Neon signs placed within five feet of a storefront window shall not occupy more than twenty-five percent of the window area.

g.    Neon lighting that completely surrounds a door, window, outline of a building, architectural element, or similar element is not allowed.  (Ord. C-2015-04 §1(part), 2015; Ord. C-2013-04 §9(part), 2013; Ord. C-3-10 §1(Exh. A(part)), 2010. Formerly 15.07.030).

15.60.040 Sign removal or replacement.

When a sign is removed or replaced, all brackets, poles, and other structural elements that support the sign shall also be removed.  Affected building surfaces shall be restored to match the adjacent portion of the structure.  (Ord. C-2013-04 §9(part), 2013; Ord. C-3-10 §1(Exh. A(part)), 2010. Formerly 15.07.040).