Chapter 19.135


19.135.010    Purpose and intent.

19.135.020    Definitions.

19.135.030    Scope of regulations.

19.135.040    Sign area calculations.

19.135.050    General requirements.

19.135.060    Specific standards.

19.135.070    Prohibited signs.

19.135.080    Signs exempt from regulations.

19.135.090    Exempt from permit requirement.

19.135.100    Special use sign permits.

19.135.010 Purpose and intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by regulating the use of exterior signs and displays and to avoid visual clutter that is potentially harmful to traffic and pedestrian safety, property values, business opportunities, and the community’s appearance. It is further intended to promote:

A. Commercial communications that accommodate the need of the business community to convey information to the public; and

B. The proper maintenance of signs; and

C. Insure consistency with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan, including Policy UD 1.4.0 which states that the City should implement uniform and unique sign standards. (Amended by City request, 1/11; Ord. 2074 § 10.1, 1995).

19.135.020 Definitions.

The following definitions are listed in alphabetical order and shall be used in the application of the sign regulations outlined in this chapter:

1. “Sign” means any device, structure, fixture, or placard, visible from a public right-of-way or surrounding properties, using graphics, symbols, and/or written copy designed for the purpose of advertising or identifying any establishment, product, goods, or services.

2. “Sign, abandoned” means a sign which, for a period of 90 consecutive days or longer, no longer identifies or advertises a bona fide business, lessor, service, owner, produce, or activity.

3. “Sign area” means the maximum visible surface of the sign on which written or graphic copy may be placed, which may be viewed at one time from any single point of observation. Frames, supports, and decorative features shall not be included in the allowable sign area calculation; provided, that such embellishments contain no written copy. Area shall be calculated by establishing the smallest single rectangle which will enclose all cabinets, signs, or letters. However, individual letters or symbols using the wall as the background with no added decoration shall be calculated by measuring the area enclosing each individual symbol or letter and totalling the combined areas.

4. “Sign, awning” means a covering structure constructed of canvas, cloth, or other flexible material projecting horizontally from and attached to a building that includes written and/or graphic copy for the purpose of advertising a product, service, or establishment, with or without internal illumination.

5. “Sign, banner, streamer/pennant” means a sign made of cloth, fabric or paper, nonrigid plastic, or similar types of material attached by one or more edges to a pole or other device intended for an advertising display.

6. “Sign, changing message center” means an electronically, mechanically, or electrically controlled sign where different automatic copy changes are shown on the same lamp bank.

7. “Sign, comprehensive design plan” means a design theme integrating the building, design, landscaping, and signs into one architectural plan.

8. “Sign, construction” means a sign on the site of a construction project that identifies the project, its character, or purpose and the architects, engineers, planners, contractors, material suppliers, or other firms participating in construction on the property on which the sign is located.

9. “Sign, directional” means a sign which identifies a business, or service, or product located within or without the City limits and provides direction thereto through written description, address, and/or graphic or pictorial illustration.

10. “Sign, farmers market” means a sign that identifies the name, location or operating times of any farmers market that is operated by a non-profit organization and for which a written agreement with the City exists for its operation.

11. “Sign, freestanding” means a sign permanently mounted upon the ground by poles, braces, foundation, or other permanent device, and not attached to any building.

12. “Sign, freeway-oriented” means any outdoor sign, display, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard, or other thing that is designed, intended, or used to advertise or inform, any part of the advertising or informative contents of which is visible from any place on the main traveled way of the interstate system or other state highway.

13. “Sign, garage sale” means a temporary sign which advertises a home sale of household goods, commonly referred to as a “garage sale,” in a residential zone.

14. “Sign height” means the vertical distance from the mean grade below the sign to the uppermost portion of the sign or sign structure.

15. “Sign, incidental” means signs of a noncommercial nature, containing no commercial message, intended primarily for the convenience of the public. Included are signs designating restrooms, hours of operation, entrances and exits to buildings and parking lots, help wanted, public telephones, bank cards accepted, etc. Also included are property control and warning signs such as “no trespassing,” “no dumping,” etc., and plaques and/or inscriptions which are an integral part of a building and are attached flat to the face of a building, walkway, or street.

16. “Sign, monument” means a sign that rests on the ground permanently mounted on the ground.

17. “Sign, multiple-use complex” means a group of structures housing at least one retail business, commercial venture, or separate parts of a business, which shares a common lot, access and/or parking facilities.

18. “Sign, nonconforming” means a sign which was legally installed, but which does not comply with the sign regulations in this title.

19. “Sign, obscene” means a sign which bears or contains statements, words, or pictures which are obscene under the prevailing statutes or U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

20. “Sign, off-premises” means a sign which displays a message relating to a use of property or sale of goods or services at a location other than that on which the sign is located.

21. “Sign, on-premises” means a sign which displays a message which is incidental to and directly associated with the lawful use of the property on which it is located.

22. “Sign, political” means a sign which advertises a candidate, political party, or position in connection with a local, state, or national election.

23. “Sign, portable” means a sign which is capable of being moved easily and is not permanently affixed to the ground, a structure, or a building.

24. “Sign, projecting” means a sign, other than a wall sign, which is attached to and projects from a wall of a building or structure.

25. “Sign, public information” means a sign which provides information of a noncommercial nature, intended primarily for the convenience of the general public, rather than for the promotion of a particular product, business establishment, or service. Public information signs may include traffic and pedestrian signs and signals, signs required by law, street and governmental directional signs, City limits signs, official public notices, directional signs to schools, churches, municipal facilities, or other public or quasi-public facilities, and signs announcing the existence of fraternal organizations or clubs.

26. “Sign, reader board” means a sign on which the sign copy or content can be readily and frequently changed. May be either a permanently fixed or portable sign.

27. “Sign, sandwich/A-board” means a usually portable, freestanding sign consisting of two hinged boards with sign copy or graphics on one or both sides.

28. “Sign structure” means any frame structure which supports, frames or decorates any sign as defined in this title. A sign structure may be a single pole or may or may not be an integral part of a building. Structures which perform a separate use, such as a telephone booth, bus shelter, or Goodwill container, shall not be considered a sign structure.

29. “Sign, super graphic” means a design or art work painted on a building or wall which may or may not use words or written copy in the overall picture.

30. “Sign, temporary” means any sign, banner, pennant, or advertising display intended to be displayed for a limited time period, such as signs advertising a new business or special event.

31. “Sign, under-marquee” means a sign which is suspended from a marquee or canopy.

32. “Sign, wall” means any sign painted on, or attached directly to and supported by a wall, facade, roof, or edge of marquee, with the exposed face of the sign on a plane parallel to the portion of the building to which it is attached, and projecting no more than one foot. (Ord. 2532 § 1, 2010; Ord. 2105, 1996; Ord. 2074 § 10.2, 1995).

19.135.030 Scope of regulations.

This chapter applies to all signs erected or altered after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this title. All new nonexempt signs and any existing sign which is structurally altered, replaced, or moved to another location on the subject property shall require a building permit and must be brought into conformance with the requirements in this chapter. Application shall be made on a form approved by the Planning Department. (Ord. 2074 § 10.3, 1995).

19.135.040 Sign area calculations.

A. The surface area of a sign shall include the entire area within a regular, geometric form or combination of regular, geometric forms comprising all the display area of the sign and including all of the elements displayed, as defined in MTMC 19.135.020 for sign area. Frames and structural members not designed as part of the advertising message shall not be included in computation of sign area.

B. When super graphics, as defined in this chapter, are incorporated into building designs, only that portion displaying or intended to display written copy shall be included in sign area measurements.

C. In the case of an awning or canopy sign, the total area of an awning sign, with or without illumination, shall be determined as follows:

1. Where the copy area on an awning or canopy is 40 percent or less of the visible surface or sign band, draw the smallest rectangle possible around the outer edges of the written copy to determine the sign area.

2. Where the copy of the awning or canopy covers 41 percent or more of the visible surface or sign band, use the entire surface of the visible copy background as the basis for determining size.

(Ord. 2074 § 10.4, 1995).

19.135.050 General requirements.

The following regulations shall apply to all signs erected, replaced, enlarged, or moved in the City of Mountlake Terrace:

A. Location. Except as permitted by MTMC 19.135.090(C), (D) and (E) and 19.135.100(A), no sign shall be located on any building, portion of building, or property other than where the business or service advertised is located. Signs and advertising structures shall relate exclusively to the business conducted or services rendered by the establishment on which the sign or advertising structure is located. Wireless communication facilities may be incorporated into sign structures. See Chapter 19.137 MTMC (Wireless Communication Facilities).

Except for certain public information signs as described in MTMC 19.135.080(H), no sign shall extend into or over a public right-of-way.

B. Setbacks. Signs may be built to, but may not extend over, any property line. For a sign that is proposed to be located on or near a property line that abuts on RS, RML, or RMM zoned property, the sign structure shall be required to meet the minimum front, side, and rear yard building setback requirement for that zoning district. No freestanding sign shall be so placed as to violate the triangular sight area as established by this title, see MTMC 19.120.290 (Sight Areas – Intersections – Restrictions).

C. Lighting Restrictions.

1. No person shall construct, establish, create, maintain any stationary, exterior lighting or illumination system or interior system which is intended to be viewed from a public street, highway, or other public thoroughfare used for vehicular traffic when such system contains or utilizes:

a. Any exposed incandescent lamp with a wattage in excess of 25 watts, unless a dimmer or sunscreen is attached;

b. Any exposed incandescent lamp with an internal metallic reflector;

c. Any exposed incandescent lamp with an external reflector;

d. Any revolving beacon light or strobe light;

e. Except for changing message center signs, any incandescent lamp inside an internally lighted sign;

2. Signs that involve continuous or sequential flashing lights shall require an approved special use sign permit provided for in MTMC 19.135.100, except the following:

a. Changing message center signs;

b. Continuous changing or scintillating lights around the perimeter of a sign to create the effect of a border, as long as no flashing operation is incorporated;

3. External light sources shall be shielded and directed away from residential properties and vehicular or pedestrian traffic;

4. Internally lighted signs shall not exceed 800 milliamp ballasts with lamps spaced no closer than 10 inches on center, or 425 milliamp ballasts with lamps spaced no closer than six inches on center.

D. Sign Maintenance. Signs shall be maintained in a state of good repair. Those signs found to be deteriorated or unsafe shall be repaired or removed by the owner within five days after receiving notice from the City. The premises surrounding a freestanding sign shall be free of litter, and any landscaped area shall be maintained.

E. Nonconforming Signs. Signs in existence at the time of the enactment of the ordinance codified in this title that do not conform to the regulations of this title but were constructed in compliance with the regulations in place at the time are considered nonconforming signs. Nonconforming signs may continue to exist if properly maintained. No structural alternation or replacement may take place without bringing the nonconforming sign into compliance with the regulations of this title. No nonconforming sign shall be moved to another location on the subject property. Any land use that has a nonconforming sign shall not receive approvals for additional signage. (Ord. 2174 § 6, 1997; Ord. 2074 § 10.5, 1995).

19.135.060 Specific standards.

A. Wall Signs.

1. Wall mounted signs shall not extend above the height of the facade or wall to which attached. Wall sign area shall include each face of all signs, and are allowed within the provisions outlined below:



Allowable Sign

Max. Total Sign Area Per Wall in Sq. Ft.

Max. Number of Signs Per Wall


Single-household residential





Private recreational facilities

The greater of: a) 24 sq. ft.

b) 10% of surface area of wall




Religious facilities, schools

The greater of: a) 24 sq. ft.

b) 10% of surface area of wall




Multi-household residential, office, religious facilities, schools

The greater of: a) 24 sq. ft.

b) 10% of surface area of wall





The greater of: a) 40 sq. ft.

b) 10% of surface area of wall



1. Apply when the use in F/T zone is multi-household residential.

2. For those buildings containing more than one tenant, the provisions of this paragraph shall apply to the exterior surface of each leased portion of the building.

Please note, for signage in REC (Recreation and Park district), see Chapter 19.75 MTMC.

2. Location Restrictions. Wall signs shall be placed so that no portion of the sign extends above the portion of the building to which it is attached with the exception of signs attached to the face of a marquee, which may extend upward to a maximum of 28 inches, measured from the bottom of the marquee. Signs attached to the face of a marquee shall not extend below the bottom of the marquee.

Wall signs shall be mounted flat against the portion of the wall, mansard, or other structure to which it is attached except signs may be placed on the slope of a pitched roof as long as no portion of the sign exceeds a height equal to the midpoint of the roof pitch. All signs mounted on pitched roofs shall have the ends enclosed and tied into the roof pitch (see illustration).

B. Awning Signs. Awning signs are allowed in BC, CG, and LI/OP zones, and shall be counted toward the area and number of wall signs allowed in subsection A of this section. Awning signs may be internally illuminated. Awning signs may not extend more than one foot above the wall to which they are attached, shall have a minimum clearance of eight feet above sidewalks and 16 feet above any area used by vehicular traffic. Awning signs shall not project from marquees or pitched roofs. No more than one awning sign allowed per use.

C. Projecting Signs. Projecting signs are allowed in BC, CG, and LI/OP zones and shall be counted toward the area and number of wall signs allowed in this chapter. Projecting signs may not extend more than five feet from a building facade, shall have a minimum clearance of eight feet above sidewalks and 16 feet above any area used by vehicular traffic. Projecting signs shall extend no higher than the portion of the building to which it is attached or project from marquees or pitched roofs. No exposed angle irons, guy wires, or braces shall be visible except those that are an integral part of the overall design, such as decorative metals or woods and required for safety. The area of a projecting sign shall be the area of the maximum number of sign faces visible from any single viewpoint. No more than one projecting sign may be allowed per use.

D. Under-Marquee Signs. Under-marquee signs are allowed in BC, CG, and LI/OP zones, and do not count toward the allowable area and number of wall signs. Under-marquee signs shall measure no more than 12 inches from top to bottom, and shall not exceed the outer limits of the marquee. The bottom of the under-marquee sign shall be a minimum of eight feet above the ground.

E. Freestanding and Monument Signs. Freestanding signs, including monument signs, shall be of a style, material, and design compatible with the associated building. All sign and support elements are to be integrated into a single design. An area around the base of each freestanding sign equal to the sign area shall be landscaped to improve the overall appearance of the sign. At least 50 percent of the area shall be landscaped with living plant material. Auxiliary projections or attachments not a part of that design shall not be erected without a building permit. The area of a freestanding sign shall be the area of the maximum number of faces visible from any single viewpoint. Each freestanding sign shall meet the following requirements:



Allowable Sign Area in Sq. Ft.

Max. Sign Area in Sq. Ft.

Max. Sign Ht. in Ft.

Max. Number Signs Per Lot

Max. No. of Signs per Street Frontage6


Single-household residential







Religious facilities, schools, PUDs, subdivisions







Multi-household residential, office, religious facilities, schools








The greater of: a) 40 sq. ft., or b) 15 sq. ft. plus 0.0014 sq. ft. of sign area for each one sq. ft. of land area





TC Town Center


Same as BC above




1 monument

1 freestanding

1. All signs in RS, RML, or RMM zones except those relating to emergency facilities such as hospitals and medical clinics shall include no interior illumination.

2. Apply when the use in the F/T zone is multi-household residential.

3. Applies for all office, retail, and commercial uses in F/T zone.

4. Multiple tenant complexes shall be allowed one additional freestanding sign on any street frontage which exceeds 300 lineal feet; provided, however, that no freestanding sign may be located closer than 100 feet from another freestanding sign on the same frontage.

5. Residential subdivisions and multi-household residential projects shall be allowed one additional freestanding monument sign on any street frontage at the primary entrance to the project.

6. “Street frontage” is the area within the required front yard setback of the applicable zone district.

Please note, for signage in REC (Recreation and Park district), see Chapter 19.75 MTMC.

F. Changing Message Signs. Changing message signs such as the movement of the hands of a clock or digital changes indicating time, date, and temperature or other message are permitted.

G. On-Premises Directional Signs. On-premises directional signs may be located to guide or direct pedestrian or vehicular traffic to parking entrances, exits, service areas, and business locations and may not exceed six square feet in area.

H. Street Address Identification. Each residence, building, business, or complex of buildings shall display and maintain on-premises street address number identification. The number or letters shall be visible from the street and be at least four but not greater than 12 inches high and of a color contrasting with the background upon which displayed.

I. Temporary Signs.

1. Grand Opening Advertisement.

a. Signage. Each new business in Mountlake Terrace shall be allowed one temporary sign in addition to any other signage allowed by City ordinances, for the advertisement of their business, or services or products available through their business, when such sign is in conformance with the provisions of this section. A temporary sign shall be a nonilluminated A-board or single-faced sign not mounted to a building, pole, or other support structure in a permanent fashion. All temporary signs shall, however, include some method of weighting the base of the sign to reduce the potential of being knocked or blown down. The method of weighting shall be approved by the Department of Community Development.

i. Zones Allowed. Any new business located in the following zoning districts shall be allowed to have a temporary sign: BC, CG, or LI/OP. New multi-household residential developments in the RML or RMM zones shall be allowed a temporary sign within the provisions of this chapter. Grand opening advertising shall not be permitted in single-household residential zones.

ii. Restrictions on Location. Temporary signs shall not be located within any of the following areas of a site:

(A) Public right-of-way;

(B) Mounted to or placed on building;

(C) Placed on vehicle;

(D) Parking stalls;

(E) Driveways or vehicle turnaround areas.

iii. Allowed Locations. Temporary signs may be placed within the following areas: landscape planter areas and interior walkways; provided the sign is placed adjacent to the business to which it refers, adjacent to the building; and provided, that at least four feet of continuous walkway clearance remains between the sign and the outer edge of the sidewalk.

iv. Size Restrictions. No temporary signs shall be in excess of 15 square feet of total display area included on all sign faces.

v. Time Limit. A new business may install a temporary sign within six months after receiving its first City business license, on a one-time basis only. No business shall be allowed to display this type of sign more than once. All temporary signs are to be removed from the premises no later than 90 days from the date the permit for the sign was issued, or 180 days from the date the business license was issued, whichever is sooner.

vi. Approval. No temporary sign shall be installed unless it has first been approved by the Planning Department.

b. Flags, Banners, Pennants and Other Devices. Upon the opening of a new business in any BC, CG, or LI/OP zone, or any new multi-household residential development in the RM zones, such establishment may use flags, pennants, banners, search lights, balloons, streamers, and other similar advertising to notify the public of their opening.

i. Allowed Locations. All grand opening advertising shall be located on the premises of the business being advertised.

ii. Time Limits. Any time within one year from the date a business license is issued for a new business, such business may advertise its grand opening for a maximum period of three weeks. Each new business shall be allowed to advertise a grand opening only once.

iii. Approval and Fee. No grand opening advertising shall be installed unless and until first approved by the Planning Division. Application shall be made to the City on approved forms. An application fee shall be assessed in accordance with the adopted City fee schedule.

iv. Light Limits. No light-emitting grand opening advertising device shall be operated between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

2. Special Event Signage. Special event signage defined as signs, banners, streamers, posters, festoons, clusters of lights, flags, pennants, balloons, nonflashing portable reader board signs and search lights may be used by businesses and community groups for the advertising of special events. The maximum sign area for portable reader board signs shall be 30 square feet. The use of such signage shall be limited to events occurring no more than three separate times during the year at the same location, for a period not to exceed 10 days at any on time, with a minimum of 45 days intervening between periods. Notification including date, place, and type of signage shall be provided to the Planning Department prior to holding the special event.

3. Farmers Market Signs. Farmers market signs shall be allowed in the TC, BC, CG, F/T, and PFS zoning districts and in any zoning district along 220th Street SW on the days the farmers market is operating (“market days”), subject to a seasonal farmers market sign permit, which may be issued for a period between May and the end of October. Such signs may be placed in the public right-of-way or, with written permission from the owner, on properties within the zoning districts identified in this subsection; provided, that such signs shall not encroach on any sidewalk or traffic lane, unless expressly authorized by the City, and shall not otherwise create a hazard, and that their locations have been approved as part of a seasonal sign permit issued by the planning department. The signs shall be erected no earlier than 7:00 a.m. on each market day and shall be removed by 9:00 p.m. on each market day. Each farmers market sign shall consist of an A-board or sandwich sign with dimensions no greater than 30 inches by 36 inches. A total of up to eight signs at any one time may be allowed under the seasonal permit. On-site vendor(s) signage associated with the farmers market is allowed without a permit on market days; provided, that any such vendor signage has been approved by the organization sponsoring the farmers market. Additional signage associated with a road closure for the farmers market is allowed without a permit; provided, that it is part of a traffic control plan approved by the City.

J. Freeway Oriented Signs. Freeway oriented freestanding signs shall be subject to Planning Commission review and approval for sign area and location. (Ord. 2840 § 7, 2024; Ord. 2755 §§ 26, 27, 2019; Ord. 2532 § 2, 2010; Ord. 2182 § 1, 1998; Ord. 2105, 1996; Ord. 2074 § 10.6, 1995).

19.135.070 Prohibited signs.

The following types of signs shall be prohibited in the City of Mountlake Terrace:

A. Banners – Streamers – Pennants. Temporary celebration signs, banners, streamers, posters, festoons, and clusters of lights, flags, pennants, balloons, and searchlights are permitted only in conjunction with a grand opening of a business or special event. (See MTMC 19.135.060(I)).

B. Portable Signs. Portable signs are prohibited, except when used as described in MTMC 19.135.090(C) (Political Signs); 19.135.090(D) (Real Estate Signs); 19.135.090(E) (Garage Sale Signs); or 19.135.060(I) (Temporary Signs). Portable reader board signs are prohibited except where used in accordance with MTMC 19.135.060(I)(2) (Special Event Signage).

C. Off-Premises Signs. Off-premises signs are not permitted within the City of Mountlake Terrace except as provided in MTMC 19.135.090(C), (D) and (E) and MTMC 19.135.100(A).

In BC Downtown, off-premises signs are permitted if the owner of the property on which it is located grants permission and the City receives maintenance assurance.

Off-premises signs shall be included in the total number of permitted signs.

The City may provide for a directory sign of downtown businesses in public private partnership for construction and maintenance.

D. Animated Signs. No sign shall be animated, revolve, or rotate either mechanically or by illumination except the movement of a clock, digital changer, or barber pole without an approved special use sign permit. (See MTMC 19.135.100(B)).

E. Signs on Utility Poles. Signs on utility, street light, and traffic control standards or poles are prohibited except for those signs required or permitted by the local utility company or government entity.

F. Traffic-Like Signs. Signs which by reason of their size, location, movement, content, coloring, or manner of illumination may be confused with a traffic control sign, signal, or device, or the light of an emergency vehicle, or which obstruct the visibility of any traffic or street sign or signal.

G. Signs within the Public Right-of-Way. Signs within public rights-of-way may only be permitted upon approval by the City Engineer.

H. Obscene Signs. Signs which bear or contain statements, words, or pictures which are obscene under the prevailing statutes or U.S. Supreme Court case law. (Ord. 2105, 1996; Ord. 2074 § 10.7, 1995).

19.135.080 Signs exempt from regulations.

The following signs are exempt from the requirements of this chapter.

A. Traffic signs, directional signs, and signs displaying a public service message installed by a governmental agency.

B. Point of purchase advertising displays such as product dispensers.

C. National flags and flags of political subdivisions.

D. Gravestones.

E. Historical site plaques and signs integral to a historical building.

F. Structures or improvements intended for a separate use, such as phone booths, Goodwill containers, and newspaper recycling boxes.

G. Building addresses with numbers and letters not more than 12 inches in height.

H. Public Information Signs. The following signs and displays are exempt from the requirements of this chapter: Traffic and pedestrian signs and signals, signs required by law, street and governmental directional signs, City limits signs, park signs, electronic score boards, official public notices, and governmental flags; directional signs to schools, churches, municipal facilities, or other public or quasi-public facilities, when approved by the appropriate City staff, and signs announcing the existence of fraternal organizations or clubs, when approved by the Hearing Examiner. Signs of governmental office buildings or other public or quasi-public facility shall otherwise comply with the requirements of this title.

I. Flag Poles. Poles erected for the purpose of displaying patriotic or corporate flags are exempt from the requirements of this chapter.

J. Ornamental Devices. Ornamental devices, church embellishments, sculptures, statues, fountains, mosaics, and design features which do not incorporate advertising or identification are exempt from the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 2481 § 49, 2008; Ord. 2074 § 10.8, 1995).

19.135.090 Exempt from permit requirement.

The following signs must meet the requirements of this chapter but do not require permit approval:

A. Seasonal Decorations. Reasonable seasonal decorations within an appropriate holiday season or during a festival or organized community event are exempt from this chapter as long as such displays are removed within two weeks following the holiday or event.

B. Construction Signs. Nonilluminated signs that identify the architects, engineers, planners, contractors, or other individuals or firms involved with a construction project, or announce the character or purpose of a project may be displayed at the project site. There may be one sign on each street the project fronts upon, but no more than a total of two signs. No sign shall exceed 32 square feet in area and 10 feet in height.

The signs shall be removed upon the issuance of the final certificate of occupancy for the project.

Also permitted are project signs required under state or federal laws.

C. Political Signs.

1. Political Headquarters. There are no restrictions regarding the size or number of political signs when located on the premises of a candidate’s political headquarters.

2. City-owned street right-of-way. Individual signs placed on City-owned street right-of-way shall not exceed 16 square feet in size. Smaller signs may be combined to form a single sign as long as it does not exceed the 16 square foot maximum. Each candidate shall be allowed one 16-square-foot square sign per 100 lineal feet of street right-of-way. A one-foot separation is required for signs that are smaller than the 16 square foot maximum.

Permission of the adjacent property owner is required for all political signs located in the City-owned street right-of-way behind the sidewalk or, if there is no sidewalk, directly adjacent to private residential property in the unimproved right-of-way area. Permission from adjacent property owners will not be required for political signs placed in the parking strip (the area located between the sidewalk and paved roadway).

3. On private residential property, the size of political signs shall be limited to 16 square feet in size provided the signs are spaced a minimum of one foot apart.

4. On private nonresidential property (commercial and industrial) each candidate shall be allowed an additional 16 square feet of allowable sign area for political signs in addition to whatever available sign area that is allowed for that use according to the sign regulations contained in MTMC 19.135.060.

D. Real Estate Signs.

1. On-Premises Real Estate Signs. Real estate signs and for rent or lease signs are permitted on the premises of the real estate being advertised, and shall meet the following requirements:

Real Estate Signs

Items Being Advertised

Max. Size in Sq. Ft.

Max. Sign Ht. in Ft.

Max. No. of Signs per Lot

Max. No. of Signs per Street Frontage

Single-Household Residence Lot





Commercial or Industrial Lots, Buildings, or Portion of Building





Multi-Household Residential Lots, Buildings or Portions of





2. Off-Premises Real Estate Signs. Three off-premises portable signs advertising open houses for residential units are allowed; provided, that such signs shall not exceed four square feet in area nor two feet in height, shall be erected no earlier than one hour prior to the open house and shall be removed no later than one hour following the open house.

Off-premises real estate signs advertising open houses may be located on private property with the permission of the owner of the property on which the sign is placed and within the public right-of-way; provided, that the signs do not encroach into a driveway, sidewalk, identifiable unimproved pedestrian walkway, or vehicular travel lanes; and is at least six feet from the outer pavement edge of a roadway when curb and gutter are not present. No signs shall be posted, tacked, nailed, or in any manner affixed upon any telephone or utility pole.

E. Garage Sale Signs. See MTMC 19.120.210 for regulations pertaining to garage sale signs.

F. Incidental Signs. Incidental signs are small signs of a noncommercial nature, containing no commercial message or the name of a business establishment, intended primarily for the convenience of the public and have a maximum area of two square feet. (Ord. 2074 § 10.9, 1995).

19.135.100 Special use sign permits.

The Planning Commission may issue special use sign permits at a regular meeting to allow the following types of signs under the conditions outlined herein:

A. Off-Premises Directional Signs. Because the very small businesses are sometimes located in premises that have no street frontage or are difficult to find, the Planning Commission may issue a special use permit for an off-premises directional sign if these conditions are met:

1. The business is not easily located by use of on-premises signs;

2. Granting of the off-premises directional sign would not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property in the vicinity;

3. Granting of the direction sign would not be contrary to the general intent of this chapter;

4. The sign is used for identification and direction only and does not exceed a sign area of 24 square feet nor a height of 20 feet;

5. The directional sign is permanently mounted entirely on private property with the written permission of the property owner.

B. Animated Signs. Signs that move or simulate motion for creation of a mood or effect, such as rain, may be permitted if no more than one-third of the lights are out at one time during the motion phase and the motion is not used strictly for attention-getting benefits, but serves a legitimate purpose in the design element of the sign.

Rotating signs may be permitted by special use permit if the rotation does not exceed seven RPM, and the message is different on each side of the sign.

C. Comprehensive Design Plan. Special use permits may be issued with special consideration given to signs which use a comprehensive design plan to encourage the integration of signage into the framework of the building and architectural plan of the entire premises. This may be done on an existing building where the facade is being altered, a new building or buildings, or a freestanding sign. Such special consideration may, in some cases, result in allowances of height or total area in excess of those limitations specified for particular zones. These permits are not to be confused with the usual procedures for obtaining variances from this chapter. Rather the exception herein is based on an exceptional effort toward creating visual harmony between the sign, the building, and the site where it is located through the use of a consistent design theme.

The comprehensive design plan shall be presented with a narrative outlining the proposed plan, including, but not limited to, the following:

1. How the physical components of the sign are integrated into the design of the written copy;

2. How the sign relates to the immediate surroundings, including existing and proposed buildings, other signs, and landscaping;

3. How the sign relates to the subject property characteristics and the characteristics of the surrounding properties;

4. A colored rendering.

In evaluating the proposed sign plan, the Planning Commission shall assess the foregoing information on the basis of the alternative solutions available using the existing ordinance and the visual benefits of allowing the proposed plan, with the ultimate concern being to protect the integrity of the intent of the sign regulations and the community.

D. Special Use Sign Permits. The Planning Commission decision for a special use sign permit may be appealed to the Hearing Examiner within 30 days of the decision. The Hearing Examiner will hold open record public hearing to consider the appeal. (Ord. 2481 § 49, 2008; Ord. 2116, 1996; Ord. 2074 § 10.10, 1995).