Chapter 20.05


20.05.010    Purpose.

20.05.020    Types of signs.

20.05.030    Exempt signs – No permit required.

20.05.040    Prohibited signs.

20.05.050    Sign standards and guidelines.

20.05.060    Staff approval of signs.

20.05.070    Exceptions to development standards.

20.05.080    Appeals.

20.05.090    Maintenance of signs.

20.05.100    Abatement of nonconforming signs.

20.05.110    Enforcement.

20.05.120    Definitions.

20.05.010 Purpose.

In addition to the purposes set forth in PGMC 20.04.010, the purpose of this chapter is to protect and enhance the historic character and visual quality of Pacific Grove’s downtown area. This chapter shall apply only to properties within the downtown commercial (C-D) and light commercial and hotel (C-1-T) districts. This chapter includes development standards (defined as mandatory requirements) and design guidelines (defined as discretionary, but encouraged as the preferred way to meet the purpose and intent of the chapter and to expedite the sign approval process). This chapter shall take the place of Chapter 20.04 PGMC, except where specifically noted otherwise. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.020 Types of signs.

(a) Public Signage. A system of public signage provides a unique identity to the community and may include downtown identification signs, public street signs, historic plaques, and wayfinding signs. Public signs are lawfully posted by a governmental agency and are exempt from the provisions of this chapter. The city, however, shall ensure its signs are consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter and shall seek to ensure signs required or posted by other governmental agencies are consistent as well.

(b) Private Signage. The following private signs are allowed within the downtown area, pursuant to the applicable development standards and design guidelines noted below:

Types of Private
Signs Allowed

Development Standards

Design Guidelines

Wall signs

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(1)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(1)(B)

Window signs (glazed area)

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(2)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(2)(B)

Projecting signs

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(3)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(3)(B)

Awning signs

20.05.050(a)(1), 20.05.050(b)(4)(A), and 20.05.050(b)(5)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2), 20.05.050(b)(4)(B), and 20.05.050(b)(5)(B)

Monument signs

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(6)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(6)(B)

Portable signs on sidewalks

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(7)(A)


Temporary signs (business promotions, special events, holidays)

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(8)(A)


Menu signs

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(9)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(9)(B)

Marquee signs

20.05.050(a)(1) and 20.05.050(b)(10)(A)

20.05.050(a)(2) and 20.05.050(b)(10)(B)

[Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.030 Exempt signs – No permit required.

Any sign exempted under the provisions of PGMC 20.04.020 shall be exempted from the provisions of this chapter, except PGMC 20.04.020(e), (k), (l), (o), (p), and (t), which are regulated by this chapter. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.040 Prohibited signs.

Any sign prohibited under the provisions of PGMC 20.04.030 shall be prohibited by this chapter, except that private flags are allowed in the downtown area pursuant to the temporary sign regulations contained in this chapter. The flag of any governmental entity is allowed per PGMC 20.04.030. In addition to the signs listed in PGMC 20.04.030, roof signs, cabinet signs, and freestanding pole signs shall be prohibited within the downtown area. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.050 Sign standards and guidelines.

(a) Development Standards and Design Guidelines. The following provisions apply to all private signs. Development standards are mandatory requirements. Design guidelines are discretionary, but are encouraged as the preferred way to meet the purpose and intent of the chapter and to expedite the sign approval process.

(1) Development Standards.

(A) Permitted Number of Signs.

(i) Of the signs listed below, no more than three different types of signs per individual business store front are allowed. The maximum number of signs by sign type is also provided below:

Type of Sign

Maximum Number of Signs by Type

Wall signs

One per business on each wall of the business that has a major entry or display window on a street or parking lot

Window signs (glazed area)

One per window facing a street, alley or parking lot

Projecting signs

One per business store front

Awning signs

One per each entrance on a street or alley (awnings with no signage are not limited in number)

Monument signs

One per premises

Marquee signs

One per theater or hotel entrance

(ii) In addition to the sign types listed in subsection (a)(1)(A)(i) of this section, the signs listed below are also allowed per individual business store front. The maximum number of signs by sign type is provided below:

Type of Sign

Maximum Number of Signs by Type

Portable signs on sidewalks

One per business store front

Temporary signs

Per 20.05.050(b)(8)(A)

Menu signs

One per business store front

(B) Ancillary Copy. Ancillary copy is that portion of the sign text other than name of business, tag line, and logo or icon. Ancillary copy shall be limited to no more than 10 percent of the total sign area and shall be made an integral part of the sign design.

(C) Sign Measurement. The total sign area shall be measured as shown in the illustration below:

(D) Materials. All signs shall be constructed of durable materials. Materials prohibited are paper, cloth, canvas, and plastic-streamer, except for awnings and temporary banners, which can be cloth or canvas.

(E) Internal Illumination. Internally illuminated cabinet signs and internally illuminated channel letters are not allowed, except as part of marquee signs on theaters or hotels.

(F) External Illumination. Graphics illuminated by flood or spotlight shall be positioned so that none of the light shines directly onto an adjoining property or shines into eyes of motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists. Such lighting shall be positioned to be night sky friendly.

(2) Design Guidelines. Icons and pictographs display a graphic image, with or without text. The image may extend beyond the perimeter of the sign text as long as the maximum sign size limits contained in this chapter are not exceeded. They should not occupy more than 50 percent of the maximum sign area and should be made an integral part of the sign design. Icons and pictographs are highly encouraged.

(b) Specific Standards and Guidelines. In addition to subsection (a) of this section, the following provisions apply to specific types of private signs:

(1) Wall Signs. Wall signs are intended to identify a specific use by name and are permitted for downtown commercial buildings, commercial centers, and freestanding buildings of fewer than three stories. Limitations on sign copy, size, and ad placement are intended to reduce visual clutter.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Maximum Size. Wall signs per storefront or building, whichever is smaller, shall be limited in size as noted below:

Building Size/Store Size

Maximum Wall Sign Area

Maximum Sign Height

< 1,000 square feet

15 square feet

3 feet

1,000-5,000 square feet

25 square feet

4 feet

> 5,000 square feet

50 square feet

5 feet

(ii) Sign Placement.

a. Where multiple signs are used (as in buildings with multiple tenants), each sign shall be centered horizontally over the storefront or other prominent architectural feature (e.g., door, window or wall area). Wall signs may be attached to the exterior wall, tower, or architectural feature of a building.

b. Wall signs shall be placed so as to avoid obscuring the building’s architectural design.

(B) Design Guidelines.

(i) Types of Wall Signs. Wall signs made of individually cut, three-dimensional letters, professionally hand painted, professionally produced plastic, wood or metal sign boards, and professionally produced framed sign boards are encouraged. Channel letters are discouraged.

(ii) Wall sign letters should extend no more than three inches from the wall.

(iii) Illumination. Wall signs may be externally lit. Individual letters may be halo lit or a combination of halo and external lighting. Halo lighting fixtures should not be visible from a public street.

(2) Window Signs (Glazed Area). Permanent window signs are intended to identify a business by name and may include additional information, such as hours of operation or a proprietor’s name. Temporary signs, and signs incorporated into window displays, are not considered permanent window signs and are regulated by the provisions of subsection (b)(8) of this section.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Sign Area. Except for real estate businesses which shall occupy no more than 40 percent of a total window area, window signs shall occupy no more than 25 percent of a total window area, excluding the following nonilluminated window signage: (a) announcing hours of operation; (b) providing contact information; and (c) an open/closed sign.

(ii) Signs in Door Windows. Nonilluminated signage indicating hours of operation, contact information, and an open/closed sign shall occupy no more than 25 percent of the total window area of the door where the signage is placed. This is in addition to the window signage allowed in subsection (b)(2)(A)(i) of this section.

(iii) Width/Height. Window signs shall be measured in the manner pictured below:

(iv) Covering Windows. Window signs shall not cover or obscure the inside of the storefront from the outside. Signs, informational posters, and other informational displays are not regulated by this chapter if they are located at least three feet from the nearest point to the window.

(v) Illuminated Signs. Neon, LED and other brightly lit window signs are not allowed, except for open/closed signs that are no more than two square feet in size.

(B) Design Guidelines.

(i) Illumination. Window signs can be illuminated externally or via recessed lighting within the window frame.

(3) Projecting Signs.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Maximum Sign Area. To encourage variety and interest, projecting signs on private property may extend up to four feet from a building face and not exceed a total sign area (per side) of 12 square feet. They shall have a maximum of two sides.

(ii) Clearance. Projecting signs shall maintain a minimum eight-foot clearance between the lowest point of a sign and the grade immediately below.

(iii) Cabinet Signs. Cabinet signs shall not be used for projecting signs.

(iv) Sign Spacing. Businesses shall be allowed to have a projecting sign only if no other projecting sign exists within 10 linear feet from the proposed sign location on the same side of the street.


(B) Design Guidelines.

(i) Pictographs. The use of pictographs is encouraged for projecting signs to graphically illustrate the type of business without the use of words. Examples of pictograph signs include a key for a locksmith or a pipe for a tobacco shop. Projecting signs may include the business name, but shall not include specific product names.

(ii) Illumination. Projecting signs may only be illuminated externally.

(4) Awnings (With or Without Signage).

(A) Development Standards. The following standards apply to all awnings, with or without signage:

(i) Placement. Awnings shall not extend across multiple storefronts and/or multiple buildings. Awnings shall be proportional to building size and shall not cover defining architectural features of the building.

(ii) Materials. Awnings must be constructed of durable, protective, and water repellent material; however, plastic or fiberglass awnings are not allowed.

(iii) Illumination. Backlit or internally illuminated awnings are not allowed.

(iv) Extension from Building. Awnings must project a minimum of three feet and a maximum of six feet from the building.

(v) Clearance and Height. For first floor awnings, the bottom of awnings must be a minimum of seven feet and a maximum of 12 feet from the highest grade below the awning.

(B) Design Guidelines. The following guidelines apply to all awnings, with or without signage:

(i) Awning design should be compatible with the overall facade on which it is to be placed in terms of size, scale, and style. Either fixed or retractable awnings are allowed.

(ii) High gloss materials are discouraged.

(iii) Long expanses of awning should be broken into segments that reflect the door or window openings beneath them.

(iv) Awning placement should consider the location of adjacent projecting signs so as not to block the pedestrian’s view of projecting signs.

(5) Awning Signs.

(A) Development Standards. In addition to the development standards in subsection (b)(4)(A) of this section, the following standards shall also apply for awnings with signs:

(i) Sign Placement. Awning signs shall be painted or affixed to the face of an awning. Such signs are limited to awnings covering one window or entrance per storefront for each street or alley that the building faces. The sign shall be limited to 15 percent of each awning face.

(ii) Illumination. If externally illuminated, the entire awning shall be illuminated.

(iii) Placard Signs. One placard or shingle type sign per storefront may be hung from an awning frame and must be designed to swing. Such signs shall not exceed three square feet in area, and shall have a minimum seven-foot clearance between the lowest point of the sign and the grade immediately below.

(B) Design Guidelines. In addition to the design guidelines in subsection (b)(4)(B) of this section, the following guidelines shall also apply for awnings with signs:

(i) Awning Design. The shape and design of awnings should be carefully designed to complement, and not dominate, the architectural style of the building. Where other awnings are used on the building, the design of all awnings should be of a matching or similar style.

(ii) Copy. Sign copy text may be the name of the business and/or the business logo/icon. Awnings with little or no ancillary text are encouraged.

(iii) Text Placement and Height. The text and/or business logo/icon located only on the valance of the awning itself is strongly encouraged.

(6) Monument Signs. Monument signs (freestanding signs six feet or less in height) are intended to provide street addresses and identification for major uses. Monument signs also are used for residential buildings.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Sign Size. The sign area of a freestanding monument sign shall not exceed 20 square feet (per side).

(ii) Sign Height. The height of a monument sign shall be a maximum of six feet, including the base. No sign over three and one-half feet in height is permitted within 10 feet of driveway entrances.

(iii) Location. May locate within five feet of property line adjacent to the street, except within the zones of visibility at corners as shown in the following illustration:

(iv) Multi-Tenant Signs. Multi-tenant signs shall have coordinated fonts, colors and styles. However, if a corporate logo/icon is included, it may use fonts and colors consistent with corporate guidelines.

(v) Sign Construction. Freestanding signs shall be constructed in a monument or with two supports. Pole signs are prohibited in downtown.

(B) Design Guidelines.

(i) Limit Text. The text, or sign copy, of monument signs should be limited to the name of the business/establishment and the street address only (except for fuel-pricing signs).

(ii) Landscaping. Monument signs should be surrounded by two-foot landscape planter areas measured in all directions from the base of the signs.

(iii) Illumination. Monument signs may have solid individual letters that are backlit (halo-lit). External illumination is also permitted.

(iv) Changeable Copy. Such signs may be permitted as building directories and for auto service stations.

(7) Portable Signs on Sidewalks. The city reserves the right to remove a sign that causes any interference with vehicular or pedestrian traffic or with any emergency situation, or if the sign interferes with right-of way work performed by, or on behalf of, the city.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Size. Sidewalk signs may not exceed four feet in height and nine square feet in area.

(ii) Number. No more than one sidewalk sign is permitted per business storefront.

(iii) Location. A minimum path of travel of at least four feet must be maintained on any sidewalk where a sidewalk sign is placed.

(iv) Materials. Sidewalk signs can be made from wood, plastic or metal.

(v) Professional Appearance. Permanent text on sidewalk signs must be professionally produced. Any handwritten messages on a sidewalk sign must be neatly produced with chalk or grease pencil. No whiteboard or dry-erase signs shall be allowed.

(vi) Anchoring. Sidewalk signs must have internally weighted anchoring to prevent signs from blowing into pedestrian areas.

(8) Temporary Signs.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Early Review by City Staff. No less than seven days before a temporary sign may be installed, the business owner shall notify the community development department of the dates of the event and the type(s) of signs to be used. The sizes and locations of the signs also shall be indicated.

(ii) Time Limit. Temporary signs shall be limited to a maximum of 60 days per calendar year per business, not to exceed 30 consecutive days at any time.

(iii) Materials. Temporary signs may include flags, beacons, pennants, streamers, banners, portable signs, or other similar devices.

(iv) Number. One temporary banner is allowed for each street frontage.

(v) Size. Each temporary banner shall not exceed 15 square feet in area.

(vi) Location. No temporary signage (of any type) shall be displayed on, or attached to, any public property, including telephone or utility poles, traffic-control signs or other such devices, street lights, or other structures located on public property, unless they comply with all provisions set forth in subsection (b)(7) of this section.

(vii) No temporary signage, of any type, shall interfere with, or restrict, vehicular or pedestrian access or visibility.

(viii) These provisions do not apply to city-sanctioned special events.

(9) Menu Signs.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Menu Signs. Menu signs may either be attached directly to the building or be freestanding. If attached to the building, they must be placed within 10 feet of the main entrance of the business. Such signs shall not exceed eight square feet in area. Freestanding menu signs must comply with subsection (b)(7) of this section.

(B) Design Guidelines.

(i) Cabinets for Menu Signs. The use of a cabinet with a glass, or other transparent door, inset into the wall is highly encouraged.

(ii) Reader Board/Changeable Copy for Menu Signs. Reader board and changeable copy are allowed for menu signs, but should not be backlit or illuminated to be brighter than the ambient lighting of the area in which they are placed.

(10) Marquee Signs.

(A) Development Standards.

(i) Marquee signs must be above the main entrance of a theater or hotel building and shall not exceed 100 percent of the area of the door and windows directly below the sign. Reader boards are not allowed to be used in marquee signs.

(ii) Marquee signs require architectural review board approval of a sign permit, pursuant to the procedures of PGMC 23.70.060.

(B) Design Guidelines. While marquee signs may be internally illuminated, external lighting is encouraged. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.060 Staff approval of signs.

Except for marquee signs, signs in the downtown area meeting all applicable development standards and design guidelines contained in this chapter shall be approvable by staff as a counter review and determination, pursuant to the procedures of PGMC 23.70.020. Except for marquee signs, signs meeting all applicable development standards, but not all applicable design guidelines contained in this chapter, shall be approvable by staff as an administrative sign permit, pursuant to the procedures of PGMC 23.70.030. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.070 Exceptions to development standards.

Any proposed variation to the development standards contained in this chapter shall require architectural review board approval of a sign permit, pursuant to the procedures of PGMC 23.70.060. Prior to approving a sign permit, the architectural review board shall make a finding that the unique design of the building, site or use warrants special consideration. Exceptions may not be used to allow any prohibited sign contained in PGMC 20.05.040. All marquee signs require architectural review board approval of a sign permit, pursuant to the procedures of PGMC 23.70.060. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.080 Appeals.

The provisions of PGMC 20.04.110 shall apply to this chapter. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.090 Maintenance of signs.

The provisions of PGMC 20.04.120 shall apply to this chapter. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.100 Abatement of nonconforming signs.

Within the C-D and C-1-T districts, the provisions of PGMC 20.04.130 shall apply to signs which do not conform to the provisions of this chapter, but which lawfully existed and were maintained prior to the effective date of this chapter. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.110 Enforcement.

The provisions of PGMC 20.04.140 shall apply to this chapter. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].

20.05.120 Definitions.

The terms and phrases defined in PGMC 20.04.150 shall apply to this chapter. In addition, the following terms shall be construed as shown below:

Design Guidelines. Design guidelines are discretionary, but are encouraged as the preferred way to meet the purpose and intent of the chapter and to expedite the sign approval process.

Development Standards. Development standards are mandatory requirements. [Ord. 13-023 § 2, 2013].