Chapter 5
Sign Definitions

7.501 Sec. 18.2. Sign Definitions.

For the purpose of this Ordinance, certain terms, words and tenses used herein, shall be interpreted and defined as follows:

Abandoned Sign. A sign which no longer correctly advertises or directs a person to a bona fide business, person, goods, product, activity, or service. A sign is considered abandoned if:

1.    It does not display a well-maintained message for a consecutive 30 day period;

2.    The use to which the sign is accessory is discontinued or terminated for more than one hundred eighty consecutive (180) days;

3.    The owner of the sign cannot be located at the owner’s last known address as reflected on the records of the City; or

4.    A structure designed to support a sign no longer supports the sign for a period of 30 consecutive days.

Accessory Sign. A sign that is subordinate to the main use on a lot and used for purposes clearly incidental to those of the main use.

A-Frame Sign. A moveable sign designed to stand on its own that is usually placed along public sidewalks to attract pedestrians to adjacent businesses.

Animated Signs. A sign with action or motion, flashing, color changes requiring electrical energy, electronic or manufactured sources of supply, revolving or changeable message signs, but not including wind actuated elements.

Architectural Projection. Any projection which is not intended for occupancy and which extends beyond the face of an exterior wall of a building, but shall not include signs.


Background Area. The entire background area of a sign upon which copy could be placed. In computing area of sign background, only that face or faces that can be seen from any one direction at any one time will be counted.

Banner. A sign that is mounted on or attached to a non-rigid surface such as cloth fabric or paper with no enclosing framework.

Billboard. An outdoor sign advertising services or products, activities, persons, or events which are not made, produced, assembled, stored, distributed, leased, sold, or conducted upon the premises upon which the billboard is located. An outdoor sign consisting of the display of characters, lettering or illustrations produced on paper sheet, applied to the surface of the structure. An outdoor sign designed and intended to advertise nonaccessory items, goods or services as well as an outdoor sign that actually advertises accessory items, goods or services. An outdoor sign shall also include billboards that are painted or contain no message at that particular time.

Bench Signs. An outdoor stationary bench of which the primary purpose is to function as an advertising device for products, services, activities, persons, or events which are not made, produced, assembled, stored, distributed, leased, sold or conducted upon the premises upon which the bench is located.

Building Directory Sign. A sign that is mounted adjacent to building entrances identifying tenants that occupy space in the building that is accessed from an internal hallway.

Building-Mounted Sign. A display sign that is painted on, adjacent to or attached to a building wall, door, window or related architectural feature. Such signs include, but are not limited to awning, canopy, projecting, and wall signs.

1.    Awning or Canopy Sign. A sign painted on, printed on, or attached flat against the surface of an awning or canopy.

2.    Marquee Sign. A display sign attached to or hung from a marquee, canopy or other structure projecting from and supported by the building and extending beyond the building wall, building line or street lot line.

3.    Projecting Sign. A sign so constructed and erected as to be attached to a building surface or a sign structure attached to a building surface and projecting therefrom.

4.    Wall Sign. A display sign which is attached or painted directly to an exterior building wall and the surface of which is parallel to the building wall.

Copy Area. The actual area of a sign applied to any background. Copy area shall be completed by drawing straight lines as closely as possible to the copy extremities encompassing individual letters or words.

Canopy Sign. See: Building Mounted Sign.

Changeable Copy Sign. See: READERBOARD SIGN.

Cold Air Inflatable Balloon. A temporary sign composed of a nonporous bag of tough, light material filled with unheated air, which may or may not float in the atmosphere.

Community Special Event Sign. A sign, other than a public building bulletin board, which is erected for a limited time period that shall not exceed seven consecutive calendar days, to call attention to special events of interest to the general public and sponsored by nonprofit groups, associations, or corporations.

Construction Sign. A ground or wall sign erected on a site designated on a building permit issued by the city as the site for construction of a new building which advises the public of pertinent facts regarding the construction, management and leasing of the new building.

Decorative Display. A temporary display designated for the entertainment or cultural enrichment of the public and having no direct or indirect sales or advertising content.

Development Entrance Sign. A sign which identifies a residential or commercial subdivision.

Directional Sign. Any sign which solely serves to designate the location or direction of any place or area located on the premises on which the sign is located.

Display Sign. A structure or device that is arranged, intended, designed or used as an advertisement, announcement or direction.

Double-Faced Sign. A sign containing two sign faces located back-to-back an parallel to each other on the same structure.

Electronic Readerboard. See: READERBOARD SIGN.

Festoon Sign. A sign consisting of strings of exposed incandescent light bulbs, balloons, or strings of pennants hung over head to draw attention to items on display or a particular business establishment.

Flashing Sign. A sign which contains an intermittent of flashing, scintillating, blinking or traveling light source which includes signs that give the illusion of intermittent or flashing light by means of animation, or an externally-mounted intermittent light source.

Ground Sign. A freestanding sign supported by a base, the width of which should be at least 50 percent of the width of the sign, having location upon the ground, shall be considered a monument sign. Such signage shall not exceed a height of five feet above the ground.

Illegal Sign. A sign for which no valid permit was issued by the City at the time such sign was erected, or a sign that is not in compliance with the current zoning ordinance and does not meet the definition of a nonconforming sign.

Illuminated Sign. A sign that provides artificial light direction on or through any transparent or translucent material, from a source of light connected with such sign, or a sign illuminated by a light with a source so obscured and shielded that no direct rays from it are visible from a public right-of-way or from an abutting property.

Incombustible Material. Shall mean any material which will not ignite at or below a temperature of 1,200Ña Fahrenheit and will not continue to burn or glow at that temperature.

Legal Nonconforming Sign. Any sign that legally does not comply and conform to the provisions of this ordinance, at the time of the effective date of this ordinance.

Location. A lot, premise, building, wall, or any place whatsoever upon which a sign is located.


Monument Sign. See: GROUND SIGN.

Mural. A design or representation painted or drawn on the exterior surface of a structure which does or does not advertise a business, product, service, or activity.

Off Premises Sign. A sign other than an on-premises sign.

On Premises Sign. A sign identifying or advertising a business, person, activity, or service located on the premises where the sign is located.

Opinion Sign. A temporary sign that announces the candidacy of persons running for public office, addresses issues to be voted upon at an election, or otherwise expresses an opinion or point of view, but does not advertise any products, goods, services or businesses.

Political Sign. See OPINION SIGN.

Portable Sign. A sign and sign structure which is designed to facilitate the movement of the sign from one location to another. The sign may or may not have wheels, changeable letters, illuminated and/or hitches for towing.

Premises. The contiguous land in the same ownership or control which is not divided by a public street.

Projecting Sign. See: BUILDING MOUNTED SIGN.

Readerboard Sign. A sign that uses an array of light emitting elements to create images or words that are intended to be legible to passing motorists. An electronic readerboard is not necessarily a type of sign itself, but instead is an element of another kind of sign (i.e. gas station ground signs may use an electronic readerboard to display the price).

Real Estate Sign. A sign pertaining to the sale, lease, or rental of a building or land.

Roof Sign. A display sign which is erected, constructed, and maintained above any portion of the roof or exterior walls of a building or structure or which is attached to any exterior wall at a height in excess of three feet above the horizontal plane of the roof abutting such wall (see Illustration A).

Sign. Shall mean any announcement, declaration, display, billboard, illustration and insignia when designed and placed so as to attract general public attention. Such shall be deemed to be a single sign, whenever the proximity, design, content, or continuity reasonably suggests a single unit, notwithstanding any physical separation between parts. Sign shall include any, but not limited to, banner, bulbs, or other lighting devices, streamer, pennant, balloon, insignia, emblem, logo, painting, placard, poster, propeller, flag (other than the official flag of any nation or state) and any similar device of any type or king whether bearing letters or not, illuminated or non-illuminated, which is visible from a public place, including but not limited to, highways, streets, alleys, or public property, or is located on private property and exposed to the public, which directs attention to a product, service place, activity, person, institution, business, or solicitation.

Sign Height. The vertical distance measured from the ground immediately beneath the sign to the highest point of the sign or its projecting structure.

Sign Structure. The supports and frame work which supports a sign on or independent of any building.

Special Purpose or Seasonal Signs. A sign other than an on or off-premises sign, including, but not limited to, traffic signs, restroom signs, vending machines, door opening directions, residential merchandise sale signs, and signs, such as Christmas decorations, used for a historic holiday and installed for a limited period of time.


Substantially Altered. A change in a sign or sign structure, as differentiated from maintenance or repair including a change in height, location, area, shape, or material. In the case of manual or automatic changeable copy signs, a change in copy, does not constitute a substantially altered sign.

Surface. The part of the sign upon, against, or through which the message is displayed or illustrated.

Temporary Sign. Display signs, banners, balloons, festoons or other advertising devices constructed of cloth, canvas, fabric, plastic or other light temporary material, with or without a structural frame, or any other sign intended for a limited period of display, but not including decorative displays for holidays or public demonstration.

Total Surface Area of Sign. The sum total of all exterior surfaces of the sign computed in square feet.


Window Sign. A sign applied or attached to the exterior or interior of a window or located in such a manner within a building that it is visible from the exterior of the building through a window. Merchandise for sale on the premises that is located in a window display shall not be considered a window.