Chapter 16.92
SIGNS—OUTDOOR ADVERTISING*

Sections:

I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

16.92.005    Infraction.

16.92.010    Adoption of sign ordinance.

16.92.020    Sign application approval.

16.92.030    Definitions.

16.92.040    Standards and criteria for approval of sign.

II. OUTDOOR ADVERTISING

16.92.050    General use regulations.

16.92.060    Signs not exceeding six square feet.

16.92.070    Signs not exceeding one square foot.

16.92.080    Signs not exceeding forty square feet—Subdivision sales.

16.92.090    Signs not exceeding forty square feet—Nonresidential building under construction.

16.92.100    Directional—Informational signs.

16.92.110    Signs pertaining to commercial and industrial land use zones.

16.92.120    Signs in multiple residential districts.

III. NONCONFORMING SIGNS

16.92.130    Defined—Application.

16.92.140    Replacement, alteration or relocation.

16.92.150    Deemed nuisance—Action.

IV. VARIANCES

16.92.160    Generally.

16.92.170    Conditions for granting.

16.92.180    Unnecessary hardship—Substantial property right.

16.92.190    Application.

16.92.200    Granting—Denial.

V. APPEALS

16.92.210    Generally.

VI. ENFORCEMENT—REMOVAL

16.92.220    Enforcement generally—Penalties for violations.

16.92.230    Administrative sign removal—When.

16.92.240    Payment of costs.

    Editor’s note: The name of this chapter was editorially amended at the request of the city during the 11-96 supplement.

I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

16.92.005 Infraction.

A violation of this chapter shall be an infraction. (Ord. 815 § 2 (part), 1990)

16.92.010 Adoption of sign ordinance.

There is adopted an ordinance providing for maximum area and dimensions of sign and display advertising in the interests of the public safety, convenience, health and general welfare of the people of the city. (Prior code § 22.1).

16.92.020 Sign application approval.

The director of community development or his/her designee shall review all sign applications requiring approval from the director. The nature and time of such review shall be set by the director of community development. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992: Prior code § 22.2).

16.92.030 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:

(1)    "Freestanding sign" means a sign not attached to any portion of a building, and not projecting through the roof or eave of a building.

(2)    "Primary frontage" means that single dimension of a parcel abutting a public right-of-way and providing the most important approach to the parcel for occupancy thereon. In case of an occupancy having more than one frontage, the director of community development or his/her designee shall determine which single frontage is primary.

(3)    "Secondary frontage" means any dimension of a parcel abutting a public right-of-way other than "primary frontage" as defined in subsection (2) of this section.

(4)    "Sign" or "signs" means all outdoor advertising and any and all devices, structural or otherwise, lighted or unlighted, painted or not painted, attached to, made a part of or placed in the front, rear, sides or top of any structure or on any land and visible from any public or private street, way, thoroughfare, alley or walk, which device announces or directs attention to the name or nature of a business, occupant of structure, building on land or the nature or type of goods, services or products produced, sold, stored, furnished or available at that location, including signs specifically for the sale and resale of real property, but excluding theater marquees which shall be subject to architectural control.

(5)    "Sign area" means all area within the outside dimensions of a solid or free-standing sign, to include the overall height and width and area between cut-out block letters, to include the average height and length or width of script letters, and area covered as measured from the perimeter of any or all emblems or designs used in addition to letters or lettering.

(6)    "Marquee" means a permanent roof structure attached to and supported by a building and projecting over public property. "Marquee sign" means any sign attached to or suspended from a marquee.

(Amended during 3/93 supplement; Ord. 601 Art. 1, 1976; Prior code § 22.3).

16.92.040 Standards and criteria for approval of sign.

The standards and criteria followed by the director of community development or his/her designee, planning commission and City Council in the deliberations relative to approval of any sign shall be as follows:

(1)    To insure that such sign then being considered complies with all applicable city ordinances; and

(2)    To protect and preserve the natural historic beauty and charm of the city and to thus preserve and promote the health, safety and welfare of property owners and residents of the city. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992; Prior code § 22.5).

II. OUTDOOR ADVERTISING

16.92.050 General use regulations.

Outdoor advertising signs and outdoor advertising structures (hereinafter referred to as "signs") shall not be permitted in the city except in the following cases and under the following conditions. (Prior code § 22.4 (part)).

16.92.060 Signs not exceeding six square feet.

Signs not exceeding six square feet in total display area pertaining only to the prospective sale, rental or lease of the premises upon which displayed are permissible outdoor advertising. (Prior code § 22.4(a)).

16.92.070 Signs not exceeding one square foot.

Signs not exceeding one square foot in area displaying the names only of the properties or in the premises upon which displayed or of the owner or occupant thereof or the address of the premises are permissible outdoor advertising. (Prior code § 22.4(b)).

16.92.080 Signs not exceeding forty square feet—Subdivision sales.

Signs not exceeding forty square feet in area, advertising the sale of subdivisions of five or more lots and located thereon; providing, that not more than one such sign be located at each major approach to the subdivision; and, provided further, that the display of such signs shall be limited to a six-month period. At the expiration of such fixed period of time, the applicant may request a further extension of time, otherwise the sign shall be removed. When the fixed period of time for display has expired and the sign has not been removed, the city may enter upon the premises upon which such sign is located and remove such sign at no liability to the city and at the expense of the owner. (Prior code § 22.4(c)).

16.92.090 Signs not exceeding forty square feet—Nonresidential building under construction.

One sign not exceeding forty square feet in area, announcing the name and character of any nonresidential building under construction. Such sign shall be displayed only after the issuance of a building permit and shall be removed prior to final inspection of the building. (Prior code § 22.4(d)).

16.92.100 Directional—Informational signs.

Directional or informational signs of a public or quasi-public nature, erected and maintained by any official or other civic body or group, except those official signs erected under provisions of the police powers, which are exempt from the provisions of this chapter, shall be governed by the following conditions to use:

(1)    Approval by director of community development or his/her designee;

(2)    Permanent directional or informational signs may be erected and shall be only of such sizes as are necessary to best suit the particular purpose and locations, based upon a finding of suitability made by the director of community development or his/her designee in each case, but no sign shall exceed twenty square feet in area for each approach or be greater in any single dimension than six feet;

(3)    Temporary directional or informational signs, which shall not exceed eighteen square feet in area or six feet in any single dimension, may be permitted on the condition that the applicant obtain a use permit in each case under the terms and conditions and findings required by this title as such ordinance pertains to the issuance of use permits except that no fee shall be charged, and that such temporary signs shall be removed by and at the cost of the applicant under expiration of such permit. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992; Prior code § 22.4(e)).

16.92.110 Signs pertaining to commercial and industrial land use zones.

Signs or outdoor advertising structures shall be permitted only on property located in nonresidential land use districts and occupied by nonresidential uses. Such signs or outdoor advertising structures shall pertain solely to uses permitted and actually conducted on the property where located and shall be attached to the building within which such use is conducted or attached to the ground of the parcel of land on which such use is conducted; provided, that for each occupancy:

(1)    All such signs shall be approved by the director of community development or his/her designee.

(2)    Such signs will not exceed in total display area, measured in square feet, the ratio of total display area to lot primary frontage as shown on the attached graph, entitled "Figure No. 1," incorporated herein, and made a part of this chapter. The maximum display area permitted for any lot, regardless of the number of uses or tenants housed on a single lot, is one hundred square feet.

(3)    In the case of parcels of land having secondary frontage, signs may be located on such frontage; provided, that the total sign area thereon shall not exceed one-half the maximum sign area allowed by Figure No. 1 for such secondary frontage.

(4)    Signs shall not project more than one foot above the face of the structure to which attached except as provided in subsection (8) of this section, signs shall not extend beyond the property line more than one foot; provided, that signs not to exceed the area allowances cited above may be placed on the front of the facia of a marquee if such is constructed as part of the building.

(5)    All signs attached to buildings except suspended marquee signs as cited in subsection (4) of this section, shall be placed parallel to the structure containing the pertaining use; provided, that nonparallel signs projecting not more than one foot beyond the property line may be permitted, subject to approval by the director of community development or his/her designee.

(6)    Freestanding signs may be placed within required setback or yard areas, in which case they may be either parallel or substantially at right angles to the right-of-way upon which the use fronts. If such signs are placed substantially at right angles to such right-of-way, the maximum display area provided in Section 16.92.070 may be utilized for each approach to the subject sign.

(7)    No sign shall be animated by means of flashing or traveling lights, moving or rotating parts or any other method causing a nonstationary condition.

(8)    Signs Under Canopies or Marquees. Signs placed under canopies or marquees shall meet the following requirements:

(A)    The sign may have a double face.

(B)    The sign shall be at right angles to the wall of the building or property line and must not project beyond the marquee.

(C)    The sign shall be rigidly fastened.

(D)    A clearance of seven feet four inches shall be maintained over the sidewalk or finish grade directly below the sign.

(E)    The sign area shall not be considered part of the maximum allowable for the property concerned.

(F)    The sign dimension shall not exceed one foot by three feet or three square feet in area per face of sign. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992; Ord. 601, 1976; Prior code § 22.4(f)).

16.92.120 Signs in multiple residential districts.

Uses in multiple residential districts may be permitted an identification sign containing the name of the development only, subject to the following provisions:

(1)    All such signs shall be approved by the director of community development or his/her designee.

(2)    Developments located on lots less than one hundred feet in width may be permitted one sign containing a maximum area of ten square feet.

(3)    Multiple residential developments on a lot width one hundred feet or greater may be permitted a sign containing not more than twenty square feet.

(4)    Developments on lots with more than one street frontage may have an additional sign not to exceed eight square feet in area on each additional frontage.

(5)    All signs shall be consistent with the scale and design of the development.

(6)    Signs may be illuminated, however, all lighting shall be directed away from street and adjacent properties.

(7)    Freestanding signs shall have a maximum height of four feet.

(8)    No signs shall be permitted on the roof or roof eave of buildings. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992; Prior code § 22.4(g)).

III. NONCONFORMING SIGNS

16.92.130 Defined—Application.

For the purpose of this chapter a "nonconforming sign" is one which does not conform with the provisions of this chapter but which was lawfully existing and maintained within the city prior to and at the time the ordinance codified in this section became effective, or was lawfully in existence and in use on property outside of the city on the date upon which the annexation of such property to the city was completed.

The provisions of Sections 16.92.130 through 16.92.150 apply to any lawfully existing sign which becomes nonconforming by reason of the following:

(1)    The amendment of the precise zoning plan for the property on which the sign is located;

(2)    The amendment of this chapter; or

(3)    The annexation to the city of the property on which the sign is located. (Ord. 517 Art. I (part), 1971: Prior code § 22.6(a)).

16.92.140 Replacement, alteration or relocation.

A nonconforming signs shall not be replaced, altered, redesigned, reconstructed or relocated unless and until the sign is made to conform with the provisions of this chapter. Ordinary maintenance and minor repairs which will not increase the normal life of the sign and which are required for safety purposes will be permitted. (Ord. 517 Art. I (part), 1971: Prior code § 22.6(b)).

16.92.150 Deemed nuisance—Action.

Each such nonconforming sign shall be considered a public nuisance and shall be removed or made to conform to all requirements of this chapter upon the order of the planning commission within the time specified by the planning commission. The planning commission shall make such order at or after a hearing held only after reasonable notice thereof is given to the owner of the sign and the occupant or the owner of the real property on which said sign is located. The planning commission shall fix a period within which such sign shall be removed or made to conform. Such period shall be fixed with due regard for:

(1)    The original cost of such sign;

(2)    The date of construction thereof;

(3)    The estimated life of said sign.

Provided, however, that no such period shall exceed five years from the date of the hearing. (Ord. 517 Art. I (part), 1971: Prior code § 22.6(c)).

IV. VARIANCES

16.92.160 Generally.

Where practical difficulties, unnecessary hardships or results inconsistent with the general purposes of this chapter may result from the strict and literal interpretation and enforcement of the provisions hereof, the planning commission, upon the verified application of any property owner or lessee of the property affected, shall have authority to grant, upon such terms and conditions as it deems necessary, such variances therefrom as may be in harmony with their general purpose and intent so that the spirit of this chapter shall be observed, public safety and welfare secured and substantial justice done. (Prior code § 22.7 (part)).

16.92.170 Conditions for granting.

No variance shall be granted unless the applicant can produce facts to show that practical difficulties, unnecessary hardships or results inconsistent with the general purposes of this chapter would result from the strict compliance with the provisions of this chapter, and, further, no variance shall be granted unless there appear, and the planning commission finds that the facts which establish beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1)    That there are exceptional circumstances or conditions applicable to the property involved and improvements thereon which do not apply generally to the property in the same district;

(2)    That such variance is necessary for the preservation of a substantial property right of the applicant;

(3)    That the granting of such variance will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the district or neighborhood in which the property is located. (Prior code § 22.7 (part)).

16.92.180 Unnecessary hardship—Substantial property right.

Unnecessary hardships, as used in this chapter does not relate to the personal circumstances of the applicant for variance, but rather to the physical conditions of the property concerned. Substantial property right, as used herein, related only to the right of the applicant to use the property concerned in a manner permitted by this chapter, which permitted use is forestalled by physical conditions existing on the property. (Prior code § 22.7 (part)).

16.92.190 Application.

Each application for variance shall be accompanied by a fee payable to the city in an amount established by resolution of the City Council, which amount shall be deposited to the credit of the general fund of such city. When such application is received, it shall be set for public hearing before the planning commission, and notice thereof shall be given by one publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city, at least ten days prior to the date of such hearing. (Prior code § 22.7 (part)).

16.92.200 Granting—Denial.

If from the facts presented with or through the application, the planning commission determines that a variance should be granted, and makes the findings required in this article, the same shall become effective immediately upon the granting of such variance by such planning commission. Otherwise, the application shall be denied. (Prior code § 22.7 (part)).

V. APPEALS

16.92.210 Generally.

Any interested person may appeal to the planning commission from any decision of the director of community development or his/her designee and may appeal to the City Council from any decision of the planning commission regarding the enforcement of this chapter or the terms or conditions involved in the enforcement of this chapter or the fixing of any terms involved in the granting of any application.

Appeals from the decision of the director of community development or his/her designee to the planning commission shall be made in writing within ten (10) business days of the date of notification of the decision from which the appeal is being made. Appeals to the City Council shall be governed by Section 16.86.020. (Ord. 838 § 1 (part), 1992; Ord. 706 § 1(c), 1985).

VI. ENFORCEMENT—REMOVAL

16.92.220 Enforcement generally—Penalties for violations.

All departments, officials and public employees of the city shall conform to the provisions of this chapter and shall issue no permit, certificate or license for uses or purposes in conflict with the provisions of this chapter; and any such permit, certificate or license issued in conflict with the provisions of this chapter shall be null and void.

Any sign erected, constructed, altered, enlarged or maintained contrary to the provisions of this chapter shall be and the same is declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance; and, the city attorney of the city shall, upon order of the City Council, immediately commence action or proceedings for the abatement and removal and enjoinment thereof in the manner provided by law, and shall take such other steps and shall apply to such courts as may have jurisdiction to grant such relief as will abate and remove such sign and restrain and enjoin any person from setting up, erecting, maintaining or using any such sign. The remedies provided for herein shall be cumulative and not exclusive.

Any person, whether as principal, agent, employee or otherwise, violating or causing the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable as provided in Section 1.12.010. (Prior code § 22.9).

16.92.230 Administrative sign removal—When.

The director of community development shall remove any sign

(1)    Without giving notice, if the sign:

(A)    Was erected in violation of the provisions of this chapter upon any property belonging to the Federal Government, state of California, county of San Mateo, city of Menlo Park, any special purpose district, or any public utility,

(B)    Is found by the director to be unsafe and an immediate peril to persons or property;

(2)    Upon the expiration of four days’ written notice to remove or alter the sign given to the sign permittee or to the owner, or other person having the beneficial use of the building, structure or land upon which the sign is located and who has failed to comply with the order within said period, if the sign:

(A)    No longer advertises a bona fide business conducted or a product available for purchase by the public on the property upon which the sign is located, or

(B)    Has been constructed, erected, altered, relocated, changed or modified, or is being maintained in violation of the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 517 Art. II (part), 1971: Prior code § 22.10(a)).

16.92.240 Payment of costs.

The actual cost of removing or altering any sign to comply with this chapter incurred shall be paid to the city by the person to whom a sign permit was issued, or in the absence of a permit, then by the owner of the building, structure, or property upon which the sign is erected. The city may recover the cost of the abatement in the same manner and pursuant to the same procedures provided for in Chapter 8.04 for the recovery of costs of the abatement of nuisances. (Ord. 517 Art. II (part), 1971: Prior code § 22.10(b)).