Chapter 18.22


18.22.010    Title, authority, purpose, scope.

18.22.020    General provisions.

18.22.030    Definitions.

18.22.040    Examples of sign types.

18.22.050    Permits and appeals.

18.22.060    General regulations.

18.22.070    Signs exempt from the sign permit requirement.

18.22.080    Permanent signs on nonresidential properties.

18.22.090    Maximum number and size of signs.

18.22.100    Temporary signage.

18.22.110    Prohibited signs.

18.22.120    Historical signs.

18.22.130    Residential signs.

18.22.140    Violations.

18.22.010 Title, authority, purpose, scope.

A.    Title. This chapter shall be known as the sign ordinance of the City of San Carlos, California.

B.    Authority. This chapter is enacted pursuant to the following provisions of State law: the California Constitution, Article XI, Section 7; Government Code Sections 65000 et seq., 65850(b), 38774, and 38775; Business and Professions Code Sections 5200 et seq. and 5490 et seq.; Civil Code Section 713; Penal Code Section 556 et seq.; as well as the City’s inherent police and zoning powers.

C.    Purpose. This chapter sets forth a comprehensive system for the regulation of signs which are within the corporate limits of the City. This chapter governs the number, size, type, location, and physical aspects of signs. By adopting this chapter, the City Council intends to serve and advance various public and governmental interests, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

1.    To protect the right to free speech by the display of protected message(s) on a sign, while balancing this right against public interests;

2.    To implement the sign-related goals, strategies and policies of the General Plan;

3.    To reduce hazards that may be caused or worsened by driver and pedestrian distraction caused by signs, especially those projecting over public rights-of-way or near roadway intersections;

4.    To preserve and enhance the aesthetic and environmental values of the community, while at the same time providing adequate channels of communication to the public;

5.    To reduce excessive and confusing sign displays;

6.    To preserve and improve the appearance of the City as a place in which to live and to work and as an attraction to nonresidents who come to visit or trade;

7.    To safeguard and improve property values;

8.    To reduce “visual shouting matches” and visual clutter by setting reasonable time, place and manner limits on sign displays, which apply equally to all persons who are similarly situated;

9.    To protect the peaceful, quiet, residential nature of neighborhoods from intrusion or degradation by inappropriate commercial signage;

10.    To protect public and private investment in buildings and open spaces;

11.    To state and enforce City policies regarding new billboards;

12.    To promote the public health, safety and general welfare;

13.    To state policies regarding private party signs on City-owned property and public rights-of-way.

D.    Scope. As to signs on private property, this chapter is regulatory; it does not abrogate, override, limit, modify or nullify any easements, covenants, leases or other existing private agreements which are more restrictive than this chapter. Except as to new billboards on City property authorized under Chapter 12.28, this chapter does not regulate signs that are displayed on public streets, sidewalks, and public spaces; those matters are covered by Title 12. This chapter does not modify State or Federal laws pertaining to the regulation or display of signs. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.010)

18.22.020 General provisions.

A.    Compliance Required. Signs may be erected, installed or displayed only in compliance with this chapter. Unless explicitly exempted from the permit requirement, signs may be displayed only pursuant to a sign permit or other approval, and in compliance with all other applicable permit requirements. A sign that is exempt from the sign permit requirement may still be subject to other permit requirements or legal approvals, including those required by governmental or regulatory agencies other than the City.

B.    Responsibility for Compliance. The responsibility for compliance with this chapter rests jointly and severally upon the sign owner, the sign operator (if different from the sign owner), all parties holding the present right of possession and control of the property whereon a sign is located, mounted or installed, and the legal owner of the lot or parcel, even if the sign was mounted, installed, erected or displayed without the consent of the owner and/or other parties holding the legal right to immediate possession and control.

C.    Violations. When a sign is displayed in violation of the rules of this chapter, or in violation of other applicable laws, rules, regulations, or policies regarding signs, each day is a separate violation.

D.    Enforcement. The Director is authorized and directed to enforce and administer this chapter.

E.    Interpretations. The Director, in consultation with the City Attorney, shall interpret this chapter as the need for interpretation arises, including for application to specific issues and proposed signs; such interpretations may be appealed first to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council. All interpretations are to be made in light of the policies of message neutrality and message substitution, and the overall purposes and intent of this chapter.

F.    Message Neutrality. It is the City’s policy and intent to regulate signs in a manner consistent with the U.S. and California Constitutions, and which is content-neutral as to protected noncommercial speech.

G.    Message Substitution. Subject to the property owner’s consent, a protected noncommercial message of any type may be substituted, in whole or in part, for the message displayed on any sign for which the sign structure or mounting device is legal, without consideration of message content. Such substitution of message may be made without any additional approval, permitting, registration or notice to the City. The purpose of this provision is to prevent any inadvertent favoring of commercial speech over noncommercial speech, or favoring of any particular noncommercial message over any other noncommercial message.

1.    Whenever a given parcel or land use has not used all of its permissible sign area, then the unused portion may be exercised for the display of signs displaying noncommercial messages; in such a case, a permit is required only if the sign qualifies as a structure that is subject to a building permit under the Building Code.

2.    Any on-site commercial message may be substituted, in whole or in part, for any other on-site commercial message; provided, that the sign structure or mounting device is legal without consideration of message content.

3.    This message substitution provision does not:

a.    Create a right to increase the total amount of signage on a parcel, lot or land use;

b.    Affect the requirement that a sign structure or mounting device be properly permitted;

c.    Allow a change in the physical structure of a sign or its mounting device; or

d.    Authorize the substitution of an off-site commercial message in place of an on-site commercial message or in place of a noncommercial message.

H.    Discretionary Approvals. Whenever any sign permit, variance, conditional use permit, sign program, or other sign-related decision is made by any exercise of official discretion, such discretion shall be limited to the noncommunicative aspects of the sign, as defined herein, architectural compatibility of the proposed sign with the surrounding area, and other factors listed in this chapter.

1.    When discretion is authorized, it may be exercised to the following factors, as applicable:

a.    Style or character of existing improvements upon the site and lots adjacent to the site;

b.    Construction materials and details of structural design;

c.    The number and spacing of signs in the area;

d.    The sign’s display area, height, and location in relation to its proposed use;

e.    The sign’s relationship with other nearby signs, other elements of street and site furniture and adjacent structures;

f.    Form, proportion, and scale;

g.    Potential effect of the proposed sign on driver and pedestrian safety;

h.    Potential blocking of view (whole or partial) of a structure or facade or public view of historical, cultural or architectural significance;

i.    Potential obstruction of views of users of adjacent buildings to side yards, front yards, open space, or parks; and

j.    Potential negative impact on visual quality of public spaces.

2.    Discretion may not be exercised as to the graphic design or message content of the subject sign; however, graphic design themes, including color and coverage ratios, may be evaluated for sign programs, but then only as to commercial messages on signs within the area subject to the sign program.

I.    Prospective Regulation. This chapter applies to signs that may be proposed or erected in the future, including those for which applications may be pending or anticipated at the time of adoption of this chapter. It also applies to existing signs which are not legal under prior law. All existing legal signs may continue in use, but any change in use must comply with this chapter.

J.    On-Site/Off-Site Distinction. Within this chapter, the distinction between on-site signs and off-site signs applies only to commercial speech messages. It does not apply to signs displaying noncommercial messages or messages providing factual direction information.

K.    Noncommunicative Aspects. All rules and regulations concerning the noncommunicative aspects of signs, such as location, size, height, illumination, spacing, orientation, etc., stand enforceable independently of any permit or approval process.

L.    Legal Nature of Sign Rights and Duties. As to all signs attached to real property, the signage rights, duties and obligations arising from this chapter attach to and travel with the land or other property on which a sign is mounted, installed or displayed. A sign permit is an official authorization of legal right to a certain use of a particular parcel of land; it is not a certificate of ownership. This provision does not modify or affect the law of fixtures, sign-related provisions in private leases (so long as they are not in conflict with this chapter or other applicable law), or the ownership of sign structures. This provision does not apply to temporary handheld signs or visual images that are aspects of personal appearance. This provision does not prevent a sign owner from removing a sign structure from a given location and installing it in another location, so long as all then-current legal requirements applicable to the new location are satisfied.

M.    Owner’s Consent. No sign may be placed on private property without the consent of the legal owner of the property and all persons holding the present right of possession and control.

N.    Signs as Accessory Uses. Unless otherwise provided herein, permanent structure signs displaying commercial messages are to be accessories to, auxiliary to, or appurtenant to another main, principal or primary use on the same parcel.

O.    Policy Regarding New Billboards. Except as authorized on City property under Chapter 12.28, new billboards, as defined herein, are prohibited. The City completely prohibits the construction, erection or use of any new billboards. This policy does not affect existing, legal billboards, or new billboards authorized by Chapter 12.28, or prevent relocation agreements, as authorized by Business and Professions Code Section 5412, so long as such agreements are not contrary to other applicable law. This policy does not prohibit permanent directional signs that are under four square feet in area, are allowed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or otherwise conform to the current edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Violation of this policy is declared to be a public nuisance that may be abated by any method authorized by law.

1.    Billboard Policy—Severability. In adopting the “no new billboards” provision, the City Council affirmatively declares that it would have adopted this billboard policy even if it were the only provision in this chapter. The City Council intends for this billboard policy to be severable and separately enforceable even if other provision(s) of this chapter may be declared, by a court of competent jurisdiction, to be unconstitutional, invalid or unenforceable.

P.    Mixed-Use Zones. In any zoning district where both residential and nonresidential land uses are allowed, the sign-related rights and responsibilities applicable to any particular parcel or land use shall be determined as follows: residential uses shall be treated as if they were located in a zone where a use of that type would be allowed as a matter of right, and nonresidential uses shall be treated as if they were located in a zone where that particular use would be allowed, either as a matter of right or subject to a conditional use permit or similar discretionary process. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.015)

18.22.030 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this chapter:

“A-frame” and “I-frame” signs mean portable freestanding signs mounted on one or two connected surfaces spread so the message may be read from different directions.

“Advertising message” means any visual image displayed for the purpose of attracting the attention of the public or potential customers, or communicating a commercial message. Noncommercial messages are not within this definition.

“Animated sign, readerboard” means a sign in which the sign copy can be changed.

“Apartment or multifamily identification sign” means a sign identifying an apartment or multifamily building.

“Awning sign” means a sign painted, printed or affixed to an awning.

“Barber pole” means a rotating or stationary cylindrical pole in a traditional red, white, and blue spiral striped design that identifies the premises as a barber shop.

“Base of the sign structure” means the structural component of a freestanding sign located below the display surface.

“Billboard” means a permanent structure sign in a fixed location, which meets any one or more of the following criteria:

1.    It is intended to be used for, or is actually used for, the display of general advertising or general advertising for hire;

2.    It is used for or intended to be used for the display of commercial advertising messages which pertain to products and/or services which are offered at a different location, also known as off-site commercial messages;

3.    It constitutes a separate principal use of the property, in contrast to an auxiliary, accessory or appurtenant use of the principal use of the property.

“Billboard vehicle” means any wheeled vehicle used primarily for the display of general advertising or general advertising for hire, by means of traversing upon any public street or parking on any public street in a manner that the advertising image(s) on the vehicle are visible from any portion of the public right-of-way. Also known as “sign truck” or “billboard truck.” This definition does not apply to vehicles displaying images related to the same business or establishment of which the vehicle is an operating instrument, such as, by way of example and not limitation, an advertisement for a grocery store on a truck delivering merchandise to that store. Also, it does not apply to vehicles which are on the public road for the primary purpose of transportation, such as taxis and buses, even if such vehicles display general advertising.

“Church sign” means a sign displayed on the premises of a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, sanctuary, or other religiously oriented meeting facility.

“City” means the City of San Carlos, California.

“Commercial mascot” means a live person or animal attired in commercial speech imagery, in public view, for the principal purpose of attracting attention to the commercial imagery.

“Commercial message” means a message which is primarily concerned with debate in the marketplace of goods and services, or the economic interests of the speaker and/or the audience, or which proposes a commercial transaction. Contrast: “noncommercial message.”

“Construction site sign” means a temporary sign displayed on the site of an ongoing construction project, during the time which begins when all necessary permits and approvals have been granted and ending with the latest of: a certificate of completion, a final inspection, or a certificate of occupancy, or the functional equivalent of any of them.

“Digital display” means a device which allows the image on a sign to be changed by electronic control methods; such devices typically use light emitting diodes or their functional equivalent to create the visible image. Both slide show type and moving image type displays are within this definition.

“Digital sign” means a sign which uses a digital display device to present the visual image to the public.

“Direct illumination” means a light source by which the light rays go through the face of the sign from behind; the term “illuminated” includes tubing and strings of lights.

“Directional sign” means a sign which serves primarily to provide directional information and which does not include commercial messages or images.

“Director” means the City’s Planning Director. The term includes all delegates and designees.

“Directory sign” means a sign listing the names and locations of occupants.

“Display face” means that portion of a sign upon which is mounted or attached the visually communicative image. Contrast: “noncommunicative aspects.”

“Double-sided” or “double-faced sign” means a sign that has two display surfaces connected on one edge, with the display faces visible only from different angles or locations.

“Election period” means the time which begins sixty calendar days before any special, general, or primary election in which at least some residents of San Carlos are eligible to vote, and ends seven calendar days after such election.

“Establishment” means a use of land other than residential, agricultural, or nature preservation, involving the use of a permanent structure which is subject to the safety codes, and the typical presence of live humans for at least ten hours per week. By way of example and not limitation, this definition includes businesses, factories, warehouses, hospitals, libraries, amusement parks, theaters, meeting halls, and churches, but does not include dwelling units, automated facilities (such as power transmitting stations or broadcasting towers), or raw land without improvements.

“Flag” means any fabric, textile, or material of any shape or size, with colors and/or patterns, which displays a symbol of a nation, state, company, or idea. Includes pennants even if they do not display a visual image separate from the fabric.

“Flashing sign” means a sign which produces intermittent illumination, revolving or rotating lighting, or constant lighting whereby the brilliance is varied by mechanical or other means.

“Freestanding sign” means a sign supported primarily by one or more uprights, poles, piers, pylons or braces in or upon the ground, in contrast to receiving primary support from a wall, fence, window, roof or other stable structure. This definition applies even when the pole or poles are covered with skirting or cladding. Monuments and pole signs are types of freestanding signs.

Frontage, Primary. See “primary business frontage.”

Frontage, Secondary. See “secondary business frontage.”

“Garage sale sign” means a sign pertaining to the occasional sale, from a residence, of used or handmade goods. Signs pertaining to similar events, such as yard sales and moving sales, are within this definition. Auctions, estate sales and other sales conducted by licensed or bonded professionals, from a residential location, are within this definition.

“Gasoline price sign” means a sign identifying the grade and/or type and price of gasoline sold on the premises.

“General advertising” means the business or enterprise of making a sign display face available to a variety of advertisers, whether they be businesses or other establishments. This definition applies even when the display face is donated or made available at a reduced rate or for in-kind consideration. Also known as “general advertising for hire.” General advertising is in contrast to self-promotion advertising.

Governmental or Other Sign Required by Law. See “official sign.”

“Graphic design” means the lettering, logos, pictures, symbols, patterns, depictions, and colors on a sign. Also known as sign copy or ad copy.

“Identification sign” means a sign that indicates the occupation conducted on the premises, or the occupant of the premises.

“Illuminated sign” means a sign where an artificial source of light is used to make the message readable and includes signs that are internally or externally lighted, reflectorized, flowing, glowing, or radiating. Signs which receive only ambient lighting are not within this definition.

“Inflatable signs, hot air balloons or blimps” means objects enlarged, inflated or activated by wind, air, or compressed gas to a volume of five or more cubic feet, used to display visually communicative images to public view.

“Information sign” means a sign which is on display for the safety and convenience of the public, providing information such as “restrooms,” “telephone,” “danger,” “impaired clearance,” “no smoking,” “parking in rear,” and other signs of a similar nature.

“Institutional sign” means a sign that identifies a church, school, hospital, rest home, government building or similar facility.

“Logo” means the name, symbol or trademark of a company, establishment or organization.

“Major tenant” means a single tenant who occupies at least seven thousand aggregated square feet of floor area in a building, center or complex of buildings.

“Marquee (fixed awning)” or “canopy” means an overhead covering or shelter (attached to a building) used as a sign, including: a sign attached to the front edge of the canopy or marquee; a sign placed along the sides or front edges of a canopy or marquee; a sign that is attached to the top or face of or beneath a marquee, canopy, cantilevered covered walkway or arcade, parallel or at right angles to the building.

“Marquee top” means a sign attached to the top of the canopy or marquee, or placed along the sides or front edges of a canopy or marquee.

“Marquee underside” means a sign attached to the underside of the canopy or marquee, or a sign placed along the sides or front edges of a canopy or marquee, or sign suspended above the public right-of-way under a canopy, awning, or marquee of a building.

“Monument sign” means a freestanding sign which is solid from the ground to the top; a freestanding sign without exposed poles.

“Multifamily dwelling sign” means a sign which identifies a multifamily building or set of such buildings operated under one management office. It refers to a master sign displayed by the management office, but not to signs displayed by persons in dwelling units.

“Multisided sign” means a sign with three or more display surfaces. Compare: “double-sided sign.”

“Mural” means an artistic creation that contains no text and no commercial images, and is visible to the public from any public right-of-way.

“Nameplate” means a sign that displays name and/or address of the occupant or location of a residential land use.

“Neon sign” means a sign which incorporates lighted neon tubes or other fluorescing gas as all or a portion of the advertising message.

“Noncommercial message” means a message which pertains primarily to debate in the marketplace of ideas. Such messages typically cover subjects such as politics, religion, philosophy, social policy, as well as commentary on sports, arts and entertainments, etc. There is no on-site/off-site distinction as to noncommercial messages.

“Noncommunicative aspects” means those characteristics of a sign which do not present a communicative visual image to the public, such as size, height, setback, structural strength or weight, illumination method, density, orientation, etc.

“Off-site sign” means a sign displaying a commercial message pertaining to a product or service which is not available at the same location. This definition applies only to commercial messages.

“Office complex” means three or more buildings with multiple tenants, collectively containing at least twelve thousand square feet of building floor area, that are located on one or more contiguous parcels and that utilize common off-street parking and access.

“Official sign” means a sign posted pursuant to or in the discharge of any governmental function by public officials in the performance of their duties (including traffic and street name signs, as well as notices, emblems, or other forms of identification and signs required by law).

“On-site sign” means a sign which directs attention to a business, commodity, service, industry, or other activity which is sold, offered, or conducted on the premises upon which the sign is located or to which it is affixed. Signs which promote products or services that are expected to be offered or available in the near future, at the same location, are within this definition. Signs mounted on public rights-of-way that are adjacent to the establishment premises, or on parking lots which serve the establishment premises, are considered on site. As to signs on construction sites, all commercial messages related to the persons, firms, and entities involved in the construction project, and information pertaining to the future use of the completed project, are considered on site, so long as the sign is not used for general advertising for hire. On parcels which are adjacent to freeways, any sign installed within three hundred feet of any portion of the parcel on which an establishment is located is considered on site as to commercial messages related to that establishment. As to officially approved redevelopment projects, any sign located within the project is considered on site as to any commercial message related to any establishment within the same project. This definition applies only to signs displaying commercial messages.

“Parking lot sign” means a sign placed or displayed on a parking lot to supply information to people using the lot, including liability, entry, exit and directional information, as necessary to facilitate the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians.

“Pennant” means any lightweight plastic, fabric, or other material, whether or not containing a message of any kind, attached to a rope, wire, or string, usually in a series, designed to move in the wind and attract attention. Flags are not within this definition.

“Pole sign” means a sign attached or suspended from a pole, post, pylon or pier, which is embedded in the ground. Typically, the poles are left exposed; however, this definition applies even when the poles are skirted or cladded.

“Primary business frontage” means that frontage of the building abutting a public right-of-way providing the primary or most important approach or entrance to the premises. When there is more than one approach or entrance to the premises, staff or the Architectural Review Committee shall determine which frontage is primary. This definition applies to all establishments, not just businesses.

“Professional and occupation sign” means a sign that displays the name and profession of the occupant.

“Projecting sign” means a sign attached at an angle or perpendicular to a building other than mounted flat on the surface of a building. Any sign which projects twelve inches or more from the surface to which it is attached is within this definition.

“Public and quasi-public building sign” means a permanent sign mounted or displayed on the premises of a public or quasi-public building, such as City Hall, public libraries, churches, etc.

“Public entrance” means an entrance into a building that is recognized as a main entrance and is open for use by the general public. A “fire exit only” doorway is not a public entrance.

Public Sign. See “official sign.”

“Readerboard” means a sign with detachable and interchangeable letters which are easily changed. Within this definition, “readerboards” may include digital signs, as well as older technologies using channel lettering and functionally similar devices.

“Real estate sign” means a temporary sign providing information about real estate which is offered for sale, rent, exchange or other economic transaction, but not including signs promoting transient accommodations at hotels, motels, and inns. All signs described in Civil Code Section 713 are within this definition.

“Residential address sign” means a sign with street numbers and/or names not exceeding two square feet per sign for single-family or duplex structures.

“Roofline” means the peak of the roof, top of a parapet or top of the wall or an angular plane projected parallel to the verge rafter of a gable roof, whichever is higher.

“Safety codes” means those codes adopted to protect public safety, such as, by way of example and not limitation, building, electrical, plumbing, grading, etc.

“Secondary business frontage” means that frontage of a building abutting a public right-of-way other than the primary business frontage.

“Shopping center” means a multitenant facility including businesses, a group of businesses or other establishments that function as an integral unit on a single parcel or on contiguous parcels, and that utilize common off-street parking and access. This definition applies even if some of the rentable or leasable units are occupied by, or are available for, uses other than profit-seeking businesses.

“Sign” means any device for displaying visual images, graphics, symbols, and/or written copy for the primary purpose of communicating with the public, when such image is visible from any public right-of-way. “Sign” shall include any moving part, lighting, sound equipment, framework, background material, structural support, or other part thereof. A display, device, or thing need not contain lettering to be a sign. Notwithstanding the generality of the foregoing, the following are not within this definition:

1.    Aerial signs or banners towed behind aircraft;

2.    Automated teller machines (ATMs) when the lettering is not wider than the machine;

3.    Architectural features. Decorative or architectural features of buildings (not including lettering, trademarks or moving parts), which do not perform a communicative function;

4.    Fireworks, etc. The legal use of fireworks, candles and artificial lighting not otherwise regulated by this chapter;

5.    Foundation stones and cornerstones;

6.    Grave markers, gravestones, headstones, mausoleums, shrines, and other markers of the deceased;

7.    Historical plaques;

8.    Holiday and cultural observance decorations on private residential property which are on display for not more than forty-five calendar days per year (cumulative, per parcel or use) and which do not include commercial advertising messages;

9.    Inflatable gymnasiums. Inflatable, temporary, moveable gymnasium devices commonly used for children’s birthday parties, and similar devices. Also called “party jumps”;

10.    Interior graphics or signage. Visual communicative devices that are located entirely within a building or other enclosed structure and are not visible from the exterior thereof, or located on the inside of a building and at least three feet from the window;

11.    Manufacturers’ marks. Marks on tangible products which identify the maker, seller, provider or product, and which customarily remain attached to the product even after sale;

12.    Mass transit graphics. Graphic images mounted on duly licensed and authorized mass transit vehicles that legally pass through the City;

13.    Menu boards not exceeding four square feet per display area at establishments serving food to customers who eat on the premises, or eight square feet at establishments where the menu board serves customers who take out their food;

14.    Merchandise on public display and presently available for purchase on site;

15.    Murals (these are regulated as public art, not signs);

16.    Newsracks and newsstands;

17.    Overhead signs. Graphic images which are visible only from above, such as those visible only from airplanes or helicopters, when such images are not visible from the street surface or public right-of-way;

18.    Personal appearance. Items or devices of personal apparel, decoration or appearance, including tattoos, makeup, wigs, costumes, masks, etc. (but not including commercial mascots or handheld signs);

19.    Searchlights and klieg lights when used as part of a search and rescue or other emergency service operation; this exclusion does not apply to searchlights or klieg lights used as attention-attracting devices for commercial or special events;

20.    Shopping carts, golf carts, horse drawn carriages, and similar devices; any motorized vehicle which may be legally operated upon a public road is not within this exclusion;

21.    Symbols embedded in architecture. Symbols of noncommercial organizations or concepts including, but not limited to, religious or political symbols, when such are permanently integrated into the structure of a permanent building which is otherwise legal; by way of example and not limitation, such symbols include stained glass windows on churches, carved or bas relief doors or walls, bells, religious statuary, etc.;

22.    Vehicle and vessel insignia. On street legal vehicles and properly licensed watercraft: license plates, license plate frames, registration insignia, noncommercial messages, messages relating to the business of which the vehicle or vessel is an instrument or tool (not including general advertising) and messages relating to the proposed sale, lease or exchange of the vehicle or vessel;

23.    Vending machines and product dispensing devices which do not display off-site commercial messages or general advertising messages;

24.    Window displays. The display, in a store window, of merchandise which is available for immediate purchase.

“Sign area” means the display surface area, including any background or backing constructed, painted or installed as an integral part of the sign, as follows:

1.    Where separate backing or individual cutout figures or letters are used, the area shall be measured as the area of the smallest polygon, and not to exceed six straight sides which will completely enclose all figures, letters, designs and tubing which are a part of the sign.

2.    Where separate or individual component elements of a sign are spaced or separated from one another, each component element shall be considered a separate sign.

3.    Total sign area shall be measured to include all sides of a double-faced or multi-sided sign. However, flag area is measured one side only.

“Sign height” means the distance from the sidewalk or roadbed grade nearest the base of the sign to the top of the highest element of the sign. Where there is no sidewalk, the grade of the roadbed nearest the sign shall be used.

“Sign program” means a comprehensive scheme for a consistent visual theme applicable to multiple establishments located in a single development project, or to large projects on large sites. Such programs often include standardized fonts, lighting, backgrounds, other elements of graphic design, and placement rules. Also known as “coordinated sign design.”

“Sign structure” means a structure which supports or is intended to support a sign. A sign structure may or may not be incorporated as an integral part of a building. Any sign which is within the definition of “structure” in the Building Code is also within this definition.

“Subdivision sign” means a sign concerning real property which has been divided into five or more lots, parcels or units for sale, lease or rent.

“Temporary sign” means a sign which, by its physical nature, is not suitable for long-term display. Temporary signs are typically made of lightweight or flimsy material, and can be easily installed with ordinary hand tools. Any sign which is within the definition of “structure” in the Building Code is not within this definition. The definition also includes signs mounted on permanent structures, such as windows, walls, or fences, but which may be on display only for a limited period of time.

“Wall sign” means a sign painted on or attached parallel to the wall face of a building.

“Window sign, permanent” means a sign displayed within three feet from the inside of the window face or on the window face, and that is visible from a public street or walkway, on display without change in image for more than thirty days per calendar year.

“Window sign, temporary” means a sign displayed within three feet from the inside of the window face, or on the window face (interior or exterior), that is visible from the public right-of-way, on display thirty or fewer days per calendar year. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.020)

18.22.040 Examples of sign types.

(Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.021)

18.22.050 Permits and appeals.

A.    Scope. This section applies to all signs that may be altered, erected, maintained or displayed only by a sign permit. The internal review and appeal procedures also apply to any other sign-related decision made by the City, including but not limited to removal orders, revocation of permits, orders to abate, placement of any new billboards on City property pursuant to Chapter 12.28, etc.

B.    Permit—Generally—Required. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to authorize, erect, construct, maintain, move, alter, change, place, suspend or attach any sign, as defined in this chapter, within the City of San Carlos without first obtaining a sign permit to do so, and paying the appropriate fees prescribed therefor. This rule does not apply to signs which are exempted from the permit requirement by an explicit provision of this chapter.

C.    Types of Review.

1.    Director. A sign that must be reviewed by Planning Division staff for compliance with the provisions of this chapter. If the permit application satisfies all requirements of this chapter, and the requirements of this chapter are not changed during the review period, then the permit shall be approved. Approval of a sign permit may be conditional upon satisfaction of other applicable laws, rules, policies, conditions, permits and approvals.

2.    Planning Commission. As detailed herein, certain signs are subject to design review by the Planning Commission. Such review is subject to the limitations stated in Section 18.22.020(H) for discretionary review. Planning Commission review shall be required for the following proposed signs:

a.    All signs visible from the U.S. 101 right-of-way and if not already included as part of an approved sign program;

b.    Signs that exceed twenty-five feet in height as measured from finished grade to topmost point of sign or sign structure;

c.    Initial or revised sign programs;

d.    New pole signs, per Section 18.22.080(G)(1) and (2);

e.    Appeals of Director review decisions;

f.    Such other signs as may be designated elsewhere in this chapter for design review;

g.    The Director may refer design review directly to the Planning Commission when in his/her opinion the public interest would be better served by having the Planning Commission conduct design review.

D.    Approval Process—Necessary Findings. Prior to approving an application for design review, the following findings must be made by the approving body:

1.    That the proposal is consistent with the San Carlos General Plan and this title;

2.    That the design of the proposal is appropriate to the City, the neighborhood, and the lot in which it is proposed;

3.    That the design of the proposal is compatible with its environment with respect to use, forms, materials, setbacks, location, height, design, or similar qualities;

4.    That the proposed sign satisfies all rules stated in this chapter;

5.    New billboards, as authorized on City property pursuant to Chapter 12.28, are subject to the following additional findings:

a.    The proposed billboard must be consistent with the California Outdoor Advertising Act and the Federal Highway Beautification Act, as applicable;

b.    The billboard must be oriented primarily for viewing from the adjacent freeway;

c.    The billboard design and orientation takes into account visibility from surrounding residential neighborhoods.

E.    Right to Permit or Display. When any sign permit application fully complies with all applicable provisions of this chapter, and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations, and such laws, rules and regulations are not changed within the review period, then the permit shall be approved and issued within the required time. In the case of signs that are expressly exempt from the permit requirement, there is a right to erect, display and maintain such signs as are authorized by this chapter, subject to the applicable rules.

F.    Exemptions—Alterations. Signs legally existing prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter are subject to a permit requirement only when a structural alteration is made, or the sign area is enlarged. No permit is required when only the sign face is changed, and the message continues to qualify as noncommercial or on-site commercial. In the case of such structural alterations or expansion, or electrical changes, a permit is required.

G.    Application for Sign Permit. Any person seeking a permit for a sign, for which design review is required, shall submit to the Director a written application for such review. The Director shall prepare a sign permit application form and provide it to any person on request. The same form may be used for both the application and the decision thereon. A single form may be used for multiple signs on the same site. A sign permit application is complete only when it is accompanied by the appropriate application fee, in an amount set by resolution of the City Council.

H.    Application—Format and Fee.

1.    Persons wishing to submit application materials in electronic form may consult with City staff about acceptable file formats and other technical requirements.

2.    Each sign permit application shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee in an amount set by resolution of Council.

I.    Application—Information. The application form may call for the following information:

1.    A sign permit application shall contain the location by street and number of the proposed sign structure, as well as the name and address of the owner and the sign contractor or erector.

2.    Three sets of a site plan indicating the position of the sign or awning in relation to the structures and other exterior improvements on the same parcel, with the linear frontage of building sides shown.

3.    Three sets of dimensioned plans, elevations and specifications showing the sign(s) and/or awning(s), method of construction, method of attachment to the building or in the ground, and a description of all materials. Plans need not be larger than eight and one-half by eleven inches if proper detail is shown. At least one set of the dimensioned plans must be in color.

4.    If the proposed sign is a new, freestanding structure, a site survey prepared and signed by a civil engineer or land surveyor with currently valid registration in the State of California.

5.    One set of photographs that show the site and location of the proposed sign(s) and/or awning(s) on the site, and each property immediately adjacent to the proposed site for context and placement and evaluation of impact, including impairments to visibility, to the neighboring properties.

6.    Elevation plan, fully dimensioned, showing height and size of each proposed sign, colors, method of illumination and materials of construction, and, if a wall sign, the exact location on the face of the building.

7.    When the area of the sign exceeds twenty-five square feet and the height of the sign exceeds six feet: structural plans and details, including calculations, for signs supported by existing structures, prepared and signed by civil or structural engineer, or architect, with currently valid registration in the State of California.

8.    For new sign structures with pier or pile foundations, a soils report prepared and signed by a soils engineer, or civil engineer, or geotechnical engineer, with a currently valid registration in the State of California.

9.    Electrical plans.

10.    A statement by the owner of the proposed sign as to whether the sign is to display commercial messages, noncommercial messages, or both, and whether the display face will be permanent, changeable, or a permanent structure with changeable elements. If the proposed sign is to be used to display commercial messages, then the applicant shall also state whether the message is to be on site or off site, and whether the sign will be used for general advertising.

11.    A statement or graphical description as to whether the proposed sign, or any part of it, is proposed to utilize any of the following physical methods of message presentation: sound; odor, smoke, fumes or steam; rotating, moving or animated elements; activation by wind or forced air; neon or other fluorescing gases; fluorescent or day-glow type colors; flashing or strobe lighting; liquid crystal displays or other video-like methods; digital display technology; live animals or living persons as part of the display; mannequins or statuary.

12.    A statement as to whether the property or parcel on which the sign is proposed to be erected or displayed, or any currently existing sign thereon, is the subject of any outstanding notice of zoning violation or notice to correct, including whether any such deficiencies are to be remedied by the proposed application.

13.    Written evidence of all owners’ consents, such as land owner or lessor.

14.    In the case of any proposed sign which is subject to a discretionary process, such as a variance, conditional use permit, or sign program, all information required by such process(es).

15.    The Director is authorized to modify the list of information to be provided on a sign permit application; however, additions may be made only after thirty days’ public notice.

16.    For sign applications consisting of a new billboard on City property, as authorized in Chapter 12.28, a visual simulation is required and shall be submitted with application materials.

J.    Completeness. The Director shall determine whether the application contains all the required information. If the application is not complete, the applicant shall be so notified in person or in writing within thirty days of the date of receipt of the application; the notice shall state the points of incompleteness and identify any additional information necessary. The applicant shall then have one opportunity, within thirty calendar days, to submit additional information to render the application complete; failure to do so within the thirty-day period shall render the application void. In such case, the application fee is not refundable.

K.    Disqualification. No sign permit application will be approved if:

1.    The applicant has installed a sign in violation of the provisions of this chapter and, at the time of submission of the application, each illegal or nonpermitted sign has not been legalized, removed or a cure included in the application;

2.    There is any other existing code violation located on the site of the proposed sign(s) (other than an illegal or nonconforming sign that is not owned or controlled by the applicant and is located at a different establishment) which has not been cured at the time of the application, unless the noncompliance is proposed to be cured as part of the application;

3.    The sign application is substantially the same as an application previously denied, unless:

a.    Twelve months have elapsed since the date of the last application, or

b.    New evidence or proof of changed conditions is furnished in the new application; or

4.    The applicant has not obtained any applicable required use permit or conditional use permit. However, applications for such permits may be processed simultaneously with a sign permit application.

L.    Multiple Sign Applications. When an application proposes two or more signs, the application may be granted either in whole or in part, with separate decisions as to each proposed sign. When a multiple sign application is denied in whole or in part, the Director’s written notice of determination shall specify the grounds for such denial.

M.    Signs Which Are Part of a Larger Project. Permit applications for sign programs as part of planned commercial, office-professional and industrial development shall include the above information as part of a site development plan. When approval is sought for a development that includes one or more signs, then the sign aspects of the proposed development must satisfy the applicable provisions of this chapter. All such applications are subject to design review.

N.    Revocation or Cancellation. The Director may revoke any approval or permit upon refusal or failure of the permittee to comply with the provisions of the permit and the requirement of this chapter, after written notice of noncompliance and at least fifteen calendar days’ opportunity to cure. The notice and opportunity to cure do not apply when a sign, by virtue of its physical condition, constitutes an immediate and significant threat to public safety.

O.    Permits Issued in Error. Any approval or permit issued in error may be summarily revoked by the City upon written notice to the permittee stating the reason for the revocation. “Issued in error” means that the permit should not have been issued in the first place.

P.    Other Sign-Related Decisions. Challenges to or appeals of sign-related decisions, other than approval or denial of a sign review or permit, do not require a particular form, but must be in writing, signed by the applicant or challenger, and state the matter challenged and the grounds therefor. Such appeals shall use the same form as other zoning appeals.

Q.    Conditional Approval. A sign permit may be approved subject to conditions, so long as those conditions are required by this chapter or some other applicable law, rule or regulation.

R.    Safety Codes. When a sign qualifies as a structure under the Building Code, a building permit shall also be required. Compliance with all applicable safety codes shall be a condition of all sign permits.

S.    Permit Denial. When a sign permit application is denied, the denial shall be in writing and sent or delivered to the address shown on the applicant’s application form, and shall state the grounds for denial.

T.    Timely Decision. Other than initial review for completeness, at each level of review or appeal, the decision shall be rendered in writing within sixty calendar days. The time period begins running when the application is complete (or is deemed complete because no notice of incompleteness has been given), or the notice of appeal has been filed, whichever applies. The timely decision requirement may be waived by the applicant or appellant. If a decision is not rendered within the required time, then the lower level decision shall be deemed affirmed.

U.    Appeal. Any decision on a sign permit application, or any other sign-related decision, may be appealed by any affected or interested person. Appeals go first to the Planning Commission, and then, if the appellant is still not satisfied, to the City Council, after which judicial review may be sought. All appeals of sign-related matters shall generally be processed in accordance with Section 18.27.150, but subject to the timely decision rules of this chapter and the limitations on discretion.

V.    When Appeal Right Arises. The appeal right arises at the earlier of:

1.    Whenever a written decision is delivered to the applicant; or

2.    The time for decision has run without a written decision.

In this context, “delivered” means personally delivered or placed in the U.S. mail, whichever occurs first.

W.    Time and Method for Appeal. Any affected or interested person may appeal any sign permit or other sign-related decision to the next level of review, by delivering a written notice of appeal to the City Clerk within ten calendar days of the subject decision. If the tenth calendar day falls on a day when City offices are closed, then the time period is extended until the next day that City offices are open. The notice of appeal must state particularly the matter appealed from, and the grounds for the appeal.

X.    Status Quo. During the pendency of review or appeal, the status quo of the subject sign(s) shall be maintained. This does not apply whenever a sign, by virtue of its physical condition, constitutes a threat to public safety.

Y.    Judicial Review. Following final decision by the City Council, any concerned person may seek judicial review of the final decision on a sign permit application pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.5 or 1094.8, as applicable.

Z.    Notices. Written notices required within this chapter shall be deemed given on the earliest of the following: when personally delivered, when publicly posted, or on the day of mailing. Notices are deemed effective when sent to the last known address of the addressee. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.030)

18.22.060 General regulations.

A.    Sign Location Requirements.

1.    All signs identifying an occupant, business, establishment or use shall be located on site, as that term is defined in this chapter. A sign may project over an adjacent public right-of-way only when authorized by an encroachment permit as well as a sign permit.

2.    No sign shall be located within the public right-of-way, except as otherwise authorized by this chapter or a resolution or ordinance duly adopted by City Council.

3.    Signs must be located in a manner to ensure pedestrian and vehicular safety.

B.    Materials. Materials selected for permanent signs shall be durable and capable of withstanding weathering over the life of the sign with reasonable maintenance.

C.    Proportionate Size and Scale. The scale of on-site signs should be appropriate for the building on which they are placed and the area in which they are located. The size and shape of an on-site sign should be proportionate with the scale of the structure.

D.    Size Limits on Display Face. As to on-site signs on nonresidential establishments, the maximum display area of all permanent signs on a given parcel is 1.6 square feet per linear foot of primary business frontage, with a one-hundred-square-foot maximum, plus 0.8 square feet of sign area for any secondary business frontage, with a fifty-square-foot maximum. This general rule applies unless there is an explicit provision to the contrary in this chapter; this general rule does not apply to sign programs.

E.    Sign Programs. A sign program shall be required for multiple-tenant projects, and for larger projects, at the discretion of the Director, that are constructed after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter. Such programs may deviate from the otherwise applicable rules regarding the noncommunicative aspects of signs. The intent of a sign program is to achieve uniformity in lettering style, height and color. The sign program shall be subject to Planning Commission review. For projects constructed prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, a sign program shall be established at the time the first modification of an existing sign is proposed that requires the replacement or alteration of an existing sign on the premises. Thereafter, any replacement or alteration of any sign shall be in compliance with this chapter and the approved coordinated sign program.

F.    Code Compliance. Every sign and all parts, portions, units and materials comprising the sign, together with the frame, background, supports and anchorage, shall be manufactured, fabricated, assembled, constructed, erected, and maintained in compliance with the building, electrical, sign, and fire codes and the zoning regulations of the City as they exist as of the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter or may thereafter be amended. Prior to installing signs, all necessary building permits shall be obtained.

G.    Construction and Maintenance. Every sign and all parts, portions, units, and materials comprising the sign, together with the frame, background, supports, and anchorage, shall be maintained in proper repair by the owner and/or possessor of such sign and the owner of the property on which the sign is located.

H.    Repainting. Repainting to like colors or replacement of faded or damaged sign face is not subject to a sign permit; provided, that the sign meets current sign ordinance requirements and there is no change to the sign structure.

I.    New Establishment. Changing the sign panels for a new establishment shall require design review to verify that the sign cabinet and other structural elements are still legal. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.035)

18.22.070 Signs exempt from the sign permit requirement.

Subject to the rules stated in this section, the signs listed in this section are exempt from the sign permit requirement, but are still subject to other applicable laws, rules and regulations.

A.    Directional signs (not including temporary real estate directional signs) may be erected on site when necessary to facilitate circulation to and on the site. Such signs shall not be counted against the site’s allowed sign area. Individual directional signs may not exceed two square feet in area or six feet in height, except that directional signs located on properties greater than one acre in area may have individual directional signs up to four square feet in area.

B.    Information signs not exceeding three square feet in display face area.

C.    Nameplates not exceeding one square foot in display face area.

D.    Professional and occupation signs may not exceed four square feet in area for all professionals on the property. When added to other signage on the property, the professional signage shall not exceed total allowed signage on the property. (Administrative review is required for signs over four square feet.)

E.    Official signs posted by the City or another governmental entity authorized to do so. Legal notices, as required by law or as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, such as notices of eviction, notices of violation, notice of application for liquor permits, etc.

F.    Signs on residential uses. See Section 18.22.130.

G.    Temporary signs displaying exclusively noncommercial messages on nonresidential properties; provided, that such temporary signage does not exceed one hundred square feet at all times, or one hundred square feet during the election period. Such signs may be illuminated only by ambient lighting, and are subject to building permit requirements only when they meet the definition of “structure” in the Building Code. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.040)

18.22.080 Permanent signs on nonresidential properties.

The signs described in this section may be displayed on all nonresidential properties, subject to the rules stated in this section, as well as all other applicable laws, rules and policies. Unless otherwise stated, all signs described in this section are subject to design review.

A.    Awning signs.

B.    Barber poles.

C.    Monument signs may be placed within required setback or yard areas, in which case they may be either parallel or substantially at right angles to such right-of-way.

1.    Maximum height: eight feet above finished grade, but no higher than one and one-half times the length of the base.

2.    If placed on a foundation or planter, the total height includes the height of the planter or foundation.

3.    Monument signs shall be placed at least six feet away from any public or private driveway.

4.    In areas with sidewalks, monument signs shall be placed at least twelve feet from public roadway.

5.    Square footage for monument signs shall be deducted from overall permitted sign area, with both sides of the sign calculated as signage if the sign is intended to be read from two or more directions.

6.    Monuments are subject to design review.

D.    Marquee (fixed awning) or canopy signs must be placed along the sides or front edges of a canopy or marquee, attached to the top or face of or beneath a marquee, canopy, cantilevered covered walkway or arcade, parallel or at right angles to the building.

1.    Such signs may be projecting or parallel to the surface to which they are attached.

2.    Such signs may not be made of cloth, canvas or other material of a similar lightweight nature.

3.    Such signs shall not hang lower than the marquee or canopy.

4.    Such signs may not project higher than the marquee or canopy.

E.    Marquee (fixed awning) or canopy signs must be of a permanent nature and attached to and supported by a building.

1.    Such signs shall not exceed the permitted signage allowed for the location.

F.    Marquee underside signs must be suspended above the public right-of-way under a canopy, awning, or marquee of a building.

1.    The canopy or marquee must be of a permanent nature and attached to and supported by a building.

2.    Such signs shall not exceed the permitted signage for the location.

3.    Clearance: minimum eight feet above grade or walkways.

G.    Pole signs. New pole signs are prohibited in all areas of the City except:

1.    Between Industrial Road and the Highway 101 Corridor and adjacent to Skyway Road and Shoreway Road.

a.    Within these areas, new pole signs may not exceed forty feet in height or one hundred square feet in display face area (measured one side) if used exclusively by a single establishment, or up to three hundred square feet per display face area when shared by two or more establishments, all of whom qualify as on site.

b.    Maximum number of pole signs per establishment, or shared between two or more on-site establishments: one.

c.    Such signs may not be used for general advertising.

2.    With the exception of R districts, pole signs may be placed within required setback or yard areas, in which case they may be either parallel or substantially at right angles to such right-of-way.

a.    They may not project over the public right-of-way.

b.    Freestanding pole signs shall be no taller than twenty-five feet at their uppermost top edge measured from the surrounding grade level below.

c.    Posts or structural supports below the sign shall not be considered in determining the sign area.

d.    The lowermost portion of the image display area shall be at least eight feet above grade to allow for visibility and access.

e.    Freestanding sign pedestals or poles shall be placed at least six feet from any building or structure.

f.    The sign cabinet shall be placed at least six feet from any private and/or public driveway.

g.    Freestanding pedestal signs shall not extend into or over any public property or access. In areas without any sidewalks, freestanding sign pedestals or poles shall be placed at least six feet from the edge of paving, provided the sign does not extend into or over a public right-of-way.

h.    The square footage of the image display area of the pole sign shall fall at or below the maximum permitted square footage for the establishment.

i.    In no case shall one side of the display face exceed one hundred square feet.

H.    Professional/occupational signs count toward the total allowed signage on the property. If signs of this type are cumulatively less than four square feet, for the entire property, then they are all exempt from the permit requirement.

I.    Projecting signs shall be securely attached to the wall and shall not project more than four feet from the mounting wall. However, if a permanent, structural overhang is part of the building and extends into the public right-of-way, a sign may be placed on top of it so long as the sign projects no more than four feet from the building face.

1.    The uppermost top edge of the sign may be no higher than the adjoining wall, parapet or roofline of the building to which it is attached.

2.    If projecting over private or public access or right-of-way, the lowest bottom edge shall be at least eight feet above the ground or grade.

3.    If double-sided, both sides of the sign shall be added together to determine total sign area which shall be deducted from the overall permitted sign area.

4.    Signs over the public right-of-way shall not extend into or occupy more than two-thirds the width of the sidewalk or walkway, as measured from the building.

J.    Readerboards, subject to the following standards:

1.    Readerboards may not exceed twelve square feet.

2.    Digital/LED type readerboards are prohibited.

K.    Wall signs, subject to the following standards:

1.    Wall signs shall be placed no further than twelve inches from the wall surface and shall be no higher than the top of the wall or parapet upon which they are mounted.

2.    Wall signs may be in cabinets, on wood or similar material attached to the wall, or painted directly on the wall.

L.    Window signs, permanent, subject to the following standards:

1.    Window signs may not cover more than twenty percent of the window surface.

2.    Combined area of permanent and temporary window signs shall not exceed forty percent of the window area.

M.    Billboards on City property, as authorized under Chapter 12.28:

1.    New billboards as authorized on City property under Chapter 12.28 may have a sign height up to fifty-five feet, and each display face of such signs may have a sign area of up to six hundred seventy-two square feet.

2.    The number of billboards as authorized on City property under Chapter 12.28 is not limited by parcel or lot, and each billboard may have up to two display faces, which may be digital and may be configured as a double-sided sign or in a V-shaped arrangement, such that the display faces may be visible from different angles or locations. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.050)

18.22.090 Maximum number and size of signs.

A.    Individual Tenant Occupancy Signs.

1.    Maximum number per building or center: five; total allowable area is calculated at 1.6 square feet of signage for every lineal foot of primary business frontage, but not exceeding one hundred square feet.

2.    If a building is located where there is a secondary frontage (or frontages), the secondary business frontages are allowed 0.8 square feet of signage for each linear foot of secondary business frontage the business occupies, not to exceed a total of fifty square feet.

3.    The applicant can distribute the square footage permitted among proposed signs.

B.    Multitenant Occupancy (Nonresidential).

1.    One sign per tenant, plus one additional sign on the site to identify the project.

2.    Total sign area for each tenant or occupant shall not exceed one and one-half square feet per lineal foot of primary business frontage of the occupancy.

3.    As to secondary frontage, total sign area for each tenant or occupancy shall not exceed one-half square foot per lineal foot of frontage.

4.    Maximum cumulative sign area per tenant or occupancy shall not exceed one hundred square feet.

5.    Signage for new multitenant buildings and sign programs require design review.

C.    Public and Quasi-Public Building Signs, Including Churches.

1.    Maximum number: one per street frontage.

2.    Maximum area determined in the same manner as other establishments. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.055)

18.22.100 Temporary signage.

This section applies to temporary signs on establishments. Unless otherwise noted, all signs described in this section are subject to administrative review.

A.    Banners and other temporary signs painted on the window or constructed of paper, cloth, or similar expendable material affixed on the window, wall, or building surface are permitted; provided, that all of the following conditions are met:

1.    The total area of such signs shall not exceed the total allowable sign area which would be allowed for new or existing permanent signs on the property. If permanent signage already exists on the property, the allowed square footage of the banner shall be within the permanent signage allotment.

2.    Such signs shall be fixed to the surface for no more than thirty continuous calendar days and for no more than sixty days each calendar year.

3.    Temporary banners shall not be erected or supported by attachment to any structure, pole, framework or device constructed or placed upon public property or right-of-way. Any such temporary banner may not be erected to extend or span over public right-of-way and must be supported from or attached to supports erected upon or attached to privately owned property or structures not on public right-of-way.

4.    The design and construction details of the banners shall be made with adequate allowance for stresses, the strength of materials incorporated into the banner, the manner of attachment to supports, and loads to be placed on the banner by the effect of the wind and other natural phenomena. This rule prevents flimsy or shoddily mounted signs which could easily become dislodged and pose a safety threat to the public. Minimum six-foot, eight-inch clearance to any walking surface on private property.

B.    Inflatable signs, hot air balloons or blimps shall comply with the provisions for temporary banners and signs and shall meet the following additional criteria:

1.    They may be on display for no more than thirty days per calendar year;

2.    They shall be ground-mounted or roof-mounted, not to exceed a height of twenty-five feet above finished grade of the building;

3.    Maximum number per location: one;

4.    Maximum size: one thousand square feet of surface area.

C.    Real estate/open house/directional signs may not exceed four square feet in area (per side) or three feet in height, and may be on display only during daytime hours when the subject property is open for public inspection or actually on the market for the proposed transaction. Such signs may not be placed on City-owned property or the public right-of-way unless authorized by Title 12.

D.    Real estate/subdivision signs may display one sign on each property or saleable dwelling unit, not to exceed six square feet in area; if that is the only sign on display, then it is exempt from the permit requirement.

1.    One additional sign, applicable to the entire subdivision project, maximum twenty square feet in area, may be on display for up to one year; that display time may be extended by the Planning Commission upon a showing that new units remain unsold, up to the expiration of the tentative map.

2.    Up to three subdivision directional signs may also be displayed on private property with the owner’s consent, subject to:

a.    Not exceeding twenty-five square feet of total sign area in GCI, LC, IH, IL, A, and mixed-use districts; and

b.    Eight square feet of total sign area in R, PD, or O-S districts.

3.    Such subdivision directionals may be displayed only during the time period that the project sign is on display.

4.    Subdivision signs may be mounted or displayed on City-owned property or the public right-of-way only as authorized by Title 12.

5.    All signs described in this subsection are subject to design review.

E.    Construction Site Signs.

1.    Maximum number per construction site: at the discretion of the Director.

2.    Maximum size: six square feet.

3.    Maximum height: four feet.

4.    Special illumination prohibited.

F.    Community activity signs may be displayed on City-owned property and/or the public right-of-way only as authorized by Title 12. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.060)

18.22.110 Prohibited signs.

The signs and messages described in this section are prohibited, unless allowed by another explicit provision of this chapter.

A.    Unprotected Speech. Any message or image which is outside the protection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and/or the corollary provisions of the California Constitution is prohibited. Examples include threats against the President or Vice President of the United States, material that meets the legal definition of obscenity, misleading or deceptive commercial messages, messages which promote illegal products or services, etc.

B.    Abandoned signs, those which no longer advertise a bona fide business, product, service or establishment available to the public. Signs are presumed abandoned after one hundred eighty days of nonuse or nonapplicability. If a legal sign is left in place by the tenant or landowner for the next occupant, opaque plastic inserts must be installed for any cabinet type sign and the sign shall be maintained during vacancy.

C.    A-frame and I-frame signs, except as authorized by Title 12.

D.    Animated signs.

E.    Banners.

F.    Billboards, except for new billboards as permitted on City property under Chapter 12.28, and billboard vehicles.

G.    Confusing signs. Signs (other than when used for traffic direction) which contain or are an imitation of an official traffic sign or signal, or contain the words “stop,” “go,” “slow,” “caution,” “danger,” “warning,” or similar words, or signs which imitate or may be confused with other public notices, such as zoning violations, building permits, business licenses, and the like.

H.    Despoliation of nature. Signs tacked, posted, cut, burnt, limed, painted or otherwise affixed on trees, fields, vegetation, rocks, or other natural features.

I.    Digital signs and digital displays, except as authorized for gasoline station price signs, and new billboards on City property under Chapter 12.28.

J.    Fluorescent. Permanent signs containing fluorescent or day-glow colors as all or part of their copy.

K.    Hazardous signs. Any sign erected in any manner that would create a hazardous condition to pedestrians or traffic, either by obstructing the free use of exits, buildings or sites, or by creating visual distractions by using color, sound or glare.

1.    Note: Graffiti is covered by the owner’s consent requirement.

L.    Pole signs, except as allowed by Section 18.22.080(G).

M.    Roof signs erected on or above the roof ridgeline of a building or placed above the roofline or eaves of a building or a sign painted on or attached directly to the roof.

N.    Rotating signs that turn on an axis, allowing different faces or images to be viewed from a single location.

O.    Stored signs may not be located on premises so as to be visible from beyond the property line after removal, prior to erection, or in storage.

P.    Vandalized signs. Any sign damaged, defaced or painted by acts of vandalism must be repaired and restored by the sign owner or responsible party, or removed within three days. Repair, restoration, or removal of signs requires a sign permit.

Q.    Drop-in plastic signs. Drop-in plastic signs, which do not include raised or individual lettering, are prohibited.

R.    Damaged or dilapidated signs. Any damaged or dilapidated sign from any cause must be repaired and restored by the sign owner or responsible party. Repair or restoration requires a sign permit. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.065)

18.22.120 Historical signs.

This section states special rules for signs in historic districts and on historic sites.

Signs that reflect the unique historical characteristics of the development and heritage of San Carlos, but do not conform to the provisions of this chapter, may be allowed to remain on display upon the granting of an historical sign permit by the Planning Commission. Granting of the permit will be subject to the Planning Commission’s findings that:

A.    Time. The sign existed at the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter and was originally erected at least thirty years prior to the date of the application.

B.    Structural Soundness. The sign is structurally sound and complies with the provisions of the current building and associated codes. A structural report from a licensed structural engineer may be required at the time of application.

C.    Typical Design. The design of the sign is typical of the styles in vogue at the time of original installation, consistent with the structures on the site, and complements the unique characteristics of San Carlos.

D.    No Clutter. Retaining the sign will not result in visual clutter or blight and will not adversely affect the adjoining properties.

E.    Repair and Maintenance. Historic signs shall be maintained in good repair. The historical sign permit shall be subject to revocation if the sign is altered or falls into disrepair, and such disrepair is not cured.

F.    Historical Significance. Application for review of significance shall be processed as a Planning Commission use permit, with associated fees.

G.    Grandfathering. Approval of an historical sign permit authorizes the sign to remain, subject to continued maintenance. Continued maintenance or restoration may also be added as a condition of approval for this permit.

H.    Other Designations. The provisions of this section shall not apply to signs that have been identified as an historic resource to the City by inclusion on the San Carlos Historical Resources Survey, or to signs which have been given historical status in a proceeding other than the historical sign permit process by the City of San Carlos or agency of the County, State, or Federal government. Such signs are deemed authorized by any of those alternate procedures. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1480 (Exh. C (part)), 2015; Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.070)

18.22.130 Residential signs.

This section controls signs on legal dwelling units, whether located in a residential zone or otherwise.

A.    Subject to property owner’s consent, each legal dwelling unit may display signs as specified in this section. A permit is required only when the sign qualifies as a structure under the Building Code. All safety code requirements must be satisfied.

B.    Total allowable display area (counting only one side of each double-sided sign): three square feet at all times; this area allowance may be increased to one hundred square feet during the election period. Flags and nameplates do not count toward this total.

C.    Message Types. Any and all protected speech of a noncommercial nature; signs described in Civil Code Section 713; garage sale signs, nameplates and identification signs; warning signs. Prohibited: off-site commercial messages, home occupation signs.

D.    Number of Signs. Not limited.

E.    Illumination. Ambient lighting only, special illumination is prohibited. Neon and other fluorescing gases are prohibited.

F.    Physical Types.

1.    Freestanding height not to exceed four feet within required setbacks; attached to walls, doors, fences, windows or poles.

2.    No mounting on roofs.

3.    If mounted on a fence, neither the fence nor the sign thereon may exceed the height limits of the fence ordinance, which are: four feet in the front setback of fifteen feet, and seven feet elsewhere.

G.    Flags.

1.    Maximum number of poles: one.

2.    Maximum height of pole: not exceeding the roofline.

3.    Special illumination allowed only on national or State holidays; maximum number of flags: not limited; maximum area of all flags combined: one hundred square feet (measured one side only).

H.    Vehicles used to display commercial messages may not be parked in the public street in a residential district.

I.    For multiple-unit residential properties, in addition to the signage allowed for each dwelling unit, the property may display one master sign, subject to:

1.    Maximum area: ten square feet if the lot is less than one hundred feet wide, or twenty square feet if the lot is one hundred or more feet wide.

2.    Such sign is subject to design review. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.080)

18.22.140 Violations.

Any violation of this chapter may be remedied by any method provided by law. Each day that the violation continues is a new violation. All violations are declared to be public nuisances. (Ord. 1497 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2015: Ord. 1466 § 3 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011: Ord. 1415 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2010. Formerly 18.150.090)