Chapter 18.02


18.02.010    Definitions.

18.02.010 Definitions.

In addition to any other definitions contained in the municipal code, the following words and phrases shall, for the purpose of this title, be defined as follows, unless it is clearly apparent from the context that another meaning is intended. Should any of the definitions be in conflict with any current provisions of the municipal code, these definitions shall prevail.

“A-frame/H-frame/I-frame sign” means a portable sign capable of standing without support or attachment.

“Abandoned sign” means any display remaining in place or not maintained for a period of ninety days or more that no longer advertises a bona fide business, service, product or establishment available to the public on the business premises where the display is located. Any legal sign left in place by the tenant or landowner for the next occupant, that is not maintained during vacancy, and that does not have opaque plastic inserts installed for any cabinet type sign, shall also be considered an abandoned sign.

“Animated sign” means any sign that is designed and constructed to give its message through a sequence of progressive changes of parts or movements, including rotating or revolving signs and electronic messages.

“Area of a sign” means the square footage of the entire face of a sign together with any frame of other material, color, or condition that forms an integral part of the display and is used to differentiate such sign from the wall or background against which it is placed. The definition excludes the necessary supports or uprights on which the sign is placed, but includes the area of a monument sign and its base, measured from finish grade. Where a sign has two or more faces, the area of all faces shall be included in determining the area of the sign, except where two such faces are placed back to back and are at no point more than two feet from one another, the area of the sign shall be taken as the area of one face if the two faces are of equal area; if the two faces are of unequal area, the area of the larger face shall be used. Further, where a sign consists only of individual letters, numerals, logos, or other similar components and is painted onto or attached flat against the wall of a building, and where such individual components are without integrated background definitions and are not within a circumscribed framed area, the total area of the sign shall be the sum of the areas of squares or rectangles surrounding each individual sign component.

“Awning” means a device attached to the facade of a building, usually over window displays, to provide weather protection to pedestrians walking alongside and beneath such shelters. Awning structures slope downward and away from the building and support canvas, wood or glass covers. Canvas awnings may have a valance (vertical flap) at the bottom of the sloping plane.

“Banner” means a large strip of flexible material with a design, picture, or writing on it which is not permanently affixed to a structure.

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

1.    It is used for the display of off-site commercial messages;

2.    It is used for general advertising for hire;

3.    It is not an accessory or auxiliary use serving a principal use on the same parcel, but rather is a separate or second principal use of the parcel;

4.    It is a profit center on its own, and in the case of multiple principal uses on the same parcel, the sign is distinct from the main operations of the principal use on the parcel;

5.    The sign is a nonaccessory use.

See also “Off-site sign.”

“Blade sign” means a double-sided sign hung beneath an awning or covered walkway perpendicular to the face of the building to which it is attached.

“Canopy” means any covered walkway other than an awning, projecting over public or private sidewalks. A fixed canopy may be carried by a frame attached to a building and/or supported by the ground or sidewalk.

“City property” means any real property over which the city or the local successor agency:

1.    Holds an interest, including, without limitation, fee title ownership, easement, leasehold or contractual interest, and public street right-of-way; and

2.    Has a present right of possession and control.

“Commercial mascot” means a person or animal costumed, decorated, or otherwise functioning as a commercial advertising device. Includes sign twirlers, sign clowns and persons or animals holding or supporting commercial signs.

“Covered walkway” means any architectural projection, including a canopy or awning, projecting out over a private or public sidewalk in a manner to provide overhead shelter to pedestrian traffic or shade over walkways, display windows and building entrances, and from which a blade sign may be hung.

“Development sign” means a temporary sign listing the architect, landscape architect, engineer, planner, contractor, or other person or firm participating in the development or construction or financing of the project.

“Directional sign” means any sign that serves solely to designate the location or direction to any place or area.

“Directory sign” means a sign listing the tenants or occupants and their suite numbers of a building or commercial center.

“Electronic reader board sign” means any sign designed and constructed to give its message through a sequence of progressive changes of parts, movements, color and/or intensity of illumination, including rotating or revolving signs and electronic messages.

“False roof” means any architectural projection attached to the upper wall, parapet, or roofline of a building in a manner that creates an eave or simulates a sloping or mansard roof.

“Fascia” means the leading edge of a roof, fixed canopy or covered walkway that has a vertical surface on which a sign may be mounted.

“Flag” means a piece of fabric or other flexible material, usually rectangular, of distinctive design, used as a symbol.

“Freestanding sign” means any sign, including a pylon-supported sign or monument sign, that is self-supporting in a fixed location and not attached to a building.

“Height of sign” means the vertical distance from the uppermost point of a sign to the ground immediately below such point.

“Identification sign” means any sign designed solely to identify the use or occupant of a structure or site, and which contains no other advertising copy.

“Illegal sign” means any of the following:

1.    A sign erected without first complying with all ordinances and regulations in effect at the time of its construction and erection or use;

2.    An abandoned sign;

3.    A sign that was legally erected which later became nonconforming as a result of the adoption of an ordinance, the amortization period for the display provided by the ordinance rendering the display nonconforming has expired, and conformance has not been accomplished;

4.    A sign that is a danger to the public or is unsafe; or

5.    A sign that causes a potential traffic hazard or obstructs the view of any authorized traffic sign, signal, or other such device.

“Indoor sign” means an interior sign that is not located on the window or within three feet of the window. These signs are generally installed within the store to advertise products and special sales.

“Lottery sign” means a sign for the California State Lottery, approved by the Lottery Commission for display by lottery game retailers.

“Marquee” means a permanent roofed structure attached to and supported wholly by a building and which may project over public property.

“Mobile billboard” means any wheeled vehicle used primarily for the display of general advertising or general advertising for hire, or that carries, pulls or transports a sign or billboard, 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. This definition applies regardless of whether the vehicle is motorized or powered by humans or animals. It does not include lettering or illustration which is attached to or painted on, and does not extend more than one-fourth inch from the surface of such vehicle. License plates, license plate frames, and bumper stickers are not within this definition.

“Monument sign” means any freestanding sign supported from grade with a solid base or the appearance of a solid base.

“Moving sign” means a sign which physically moves or presents the appearance of movement, whether by revolving or rotating parts actuated by electrical, mechanical or other device or by wind current or forced air. Moving signs include, but are not limited to, flashing signs, banners, pennants, flags, feather signs and balloons. The term “moving sign” does not include a time or temperature indicator, or a motor vehicle, or digital display.

“Mural” means a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted or hand-tiled image applied to and made integral to the exterior wall of a commercial or industrial building in commercial and industrial zones, in public view, the written message of which does not exceed three percent of the total area of the mural, and that contains no commercial message. For this purpose, a commercial message is any message or image that advertises a business conducted, services rendered, or goods produced or sold. A mural does not contain any text or lettering unless contextually and artistically consistent with the overriding, unifying theme of the mural. A mural shall not exceed the height of the structure, shall not extend more than six inches from the building facade, shall not exceed one hundred square feet (ten feet by ten feet), shall not include electrical or moving components; shall not cover windows or doors, and shall remain unaltered for a period of at least two years.

Any such artwork or signage on an exterior wall that does not meet these qualifications shall be considered a wall sign and subject to the sign permit requirement. If the artwork qualifies under this definition, no sign permit is required, and the city will have no review authority of the content of the mural, provided the message is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter or state or federal law.

“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 that advertises commercial products, accommodations, services or activities not provided in or on the property or premises upon which it is located. Any sign other than an on-site sign, including all outdoor advertising and outdoor displays or display space on a lease or rental basis. An off-site sign directs attention to or advertises an occupancy, commodity, service or entertainment supplied or originated at other premises or is unrelated to the business being performed on site. The on-site/off-site distinction does not apply to noncommercial messages.

“On-site sign” means a sign that advertises the commercial business, accommodation, services or activities provided on the premises on which the sign is located, or is expected to be provided in the near future. In the case of developments subject to a master sign program, all establishments subject to the program are considered on-site whenever located within any location subject to the program. As to construction signs, “on-site” includes all parties involved in the specific construction project. Any sign located within twelve feet of a main public entrance to an establishment is also considered on-site, regardless of property lines.

“Product sign” means a sign manufactured as a standard, integral part of a mass-produced product accessory to a commercial or public or semipublic use, including a telephone booth, vending machine, automated teller machine, gasoline pump, newspaper rack, and bus shelter sign.

“Planned sign program” means a coordinated program of one or more signs for an individual building or building complex or project with multiple tenants.

“Pole sign” means a freestanding sign that is attached or mounted on a monopole (single post).

“Projecting sign” means any double-faced sign, other than a blade sign, which is suspended from or supported by a building or wall, or a sign, other than a wall sign, which is suspended from or supported by a building or wall which projects out from the building or wall.

“Public events banner” means a sign made of material similar to heavy canvas or reinforced plastic and used in connection with a community event, or a parade, march or demonstration.

“Pylon sign” means a ground-mounted sign attached to one or more posts, whose base is greater than two feet in diameter.

“Roofline” means the lowest eave of a roof or parapet.

“Sign” means any display, declaration, demonstration, graphic announcement, inflatable device, illustration or insignia used to advertise or promote the interest of any person when the same is placed out-of-doors, or on the inside of a window to be seen from the outside, in view of the general public; provided, that this definition shall not include display of the American or California flag in compliance with the standards set forth herein.

“Site” means any parcel of land as designated in the current assessor’s parcel map book.

“Snipe sign” means a temporary sign displaying a commercial message, placed on city property or the public right-of-way in violation of this chapter or other applicable law.

“Street banner” means a sign made of material similar to heavy canvas or reinforced plastic, attached to poles or buildings, and suspended over a city street or sidewalk from time to time.

“Street frontage” means the linear foot width of a building site or parcel of land along or fronting on a street or other principal thoroughfare.

“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. Such signs include, but are not limited to, noncommercial signs, campaign signs, temporary promotional advertisements including “grand opening,” “under new management” and seasonal or other special event advertisements that are displayed outside a business.

“Traditional public forum” means the surfaces of city-owned streets, city-owned parks during the hours that they are normally open to the public, and sidewalks that connected to the city’s main pedestrian circulation system. In consultation with the city attorney, the director of public works shall interpret this phrase for compliance with court decisions.

“Valance” means the vertical face or flap of a canvas awning that hangs down or is stretched down at the leading edge of the awning and is frequently used for a painted sign identifying the business in a building to which the awning is attached.

“Wall sign” means any single-faced sign, including a painted sign or a sign comprised of individual letters, which is attached to the wall of a building or face of a structure and parallel to the building or structure.

“Window area” means total combined area of all window surfaces for a single building, area of door windows excluded.

“Window sign” means a sign maintained in or painted upon a window, which is intended to be viewed from outside the building. It does not include merchandise offered for sale on such premises. (Ord. 2015-003 § 1 (part), 2015)