Chapter 18.30


18.30.010    Scope.

18.30.020    Definitions.

18.30.030    Permits.

18.30.040    General provisions.

18.30.045    Prohibited signs.

18.30.050    Sign provisions for residential zones.

18.30.055    Identification signs for public schools.

18.30.060    Sign provisions for commercial zones.

18.30.070    Administration – Enforcement.

18.30.010 Scope.

The ordinance codified in this chapter shall not regulate traffic, directional or other signs installed by a government entity; in building merchandise displays, or in building point-of-purchase advertising displays, such as product dispensers; national flags or flags of a political subdivision; legal notices required by law; historic site plaques; gravestones; structures intended for a separate use, such as phone booths, charity and recycling containers; provided, that their placement shall comply with all setback requirements and be done in a manner so that the safe vision and operation or passage of vehicles or pedestrians is not affected; or lettering or symbols painted directly onto or flush-mounted magnetically onto a motor vehicle operating in the normal course of business. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this title, the following definitions shall apply:

“Abandoned sign” means a sign that no longer correctly identifies, exhorts, or advertises any person, business, lessor, owner, product, or activity conducted or available on the premises where such sign is located.

“Advertising copy” means any letters, figures, symbols, logos, or trademarks which identify or promote the sign user or any product or service; or which provide information about the sign user, the building, or the products or services available.

“Billboard” means an advertising copy sign that directs attention to businesses, commodities, services, or facilities that are not primarily sold, manufactured, or distributed from the property on which the sign is located. The term “billboard” includes both the structural framework that supports a billboard and any billboard faces attached to the framework.

“Changing message center” means an electronically controlled public service time and temperature sign, message center, or readerboard where different copy changes of a public service or commercial nature are shown on the same lampbank.

“Double-faced sign” means a sign that has advertising copy on opposite sides of a single-display surface or sign structure.

“Electrical sign” means a sign or sign structure in which electrical wiring, connections, and/or fixtures are used as part of the sign proper.

“Facade” means the entire building front or street wall face of a building extending from the grade of the building to the top of the parapet or eaves and the entire width of the building elevation.

“Flashing sign” means a sign or portion thereof which changes light intensity or switches on and off in a constant pattern or contains motion or the optical illusion of motion by use of electrical energy. Changing message centers shall not be considered flashing signs.

“Freestanding sign” means a sign attached to the ground by a sign structure and supported by uprights placed on or in the ground.

“Frontage” means the measurement of the length of the property line along the street immediately adjacent to the property.

“Grade” means the elevation as measured at the relative ground level in the immediate vicinity of the sign.

“Incidental sign” means a small, nonelectric information sign four square feet or less in area which pertains to goods, products, services, or facilities which are available on the premises where the sign occurs and which is intended primarily for the convenience of the public while on the premises.

“Landscaping” means any material used as a decorative feature, such as concrete bases, planter boxes, rockeries, driftwood, pole covers, decorative framing and shrubbery or planting materials, used in conjunction with a sign, which expresses the theme of the sign but which does not contain advertising copy.

“Mansard roof” means a sloped roof or roof-like facade architecturally able to be treated as a building wall.

“Marquee” means a permanent structure attached to, supported by, and projecting from a building and providing protection from the weather elements, but which does not include a projecting roof. For purposes of the ordinance codified in this chapter, a freestanding, permanent, roof-like structure providing protection from the elements, such as a service station gas pump island, will also be considered a marquee. The definition also includes an awning and a canopy.

“Nameplate sign” means a sign designating the name and address of the resident, residence, or its home occupation.

“Off-premises sign” means a sign relating, through its message and content, to a business activity, use, product, or service not available on the premises on which the sign is erected.

“On-premises directional sign” means a permanent sign that directs the public to a specific place such as an entrance, exit, or parking or service area, or to a particular aspect of a business establishment.

“On-premises sign” means a sign which carries only advertisements and messages strictly applicable to a lawful use of the premises on which it is located.

“Perimeter” means the boundary of the square or rectangle required to enclose the sign.

“Person” means an individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, institution, or organization.

“Portable sign” means any sign which is not permanently affixed and is designated for or capable of being moved, except those signs explicitly designed for people to carry on their person.

“Premises” means the real estate (as a unit) which is involved by the sign or signs mentioned in this chapter.

“Projecting sign” means a sign which is attached to and projects more than one foot from a structure, building face or marquee.

“Readerboard” means a sign face consisting of tracks to hold readily changeable letters allowing frequent changes of copy.

“Real estate sign” means a portable or freestanding sign erected by the owner or his agent advertising the real estate upon which the sign is located for rent, lease, or sale, or directing to the property.

“Revolving sign” means a sign which rotates or turns in motion in a circular pattern.

“Roof sign” means a sign fully supported by and erected on and above a roof of a building or structure. (Shall not include a sign erected on the face of a mansard roof.)

“Sign” means any visual communication device, structure, or fixture which is visible from any right-of-way and is intended to aid the establishment in question in promoting the sale of products, goods, services, or events; or to identify a building using graphics, letters, figures, symbols, trademarks or written copy. Painted wall designs or patterns which do not represent a product, service or registered trademark; or which do not identify the user, shall not be considered signs. If a design or pattern is combined with a sign, only that part of the design or pattern which cannot be distinguished from the sign will be considered as part of the sign.

“Sign area” means the entire area of a sign on which copy is to be placed. Only one side of a double-faced sign shall be included. Sign structure, architectural embellishments, framework and decorative features which contain no written or advertising copy shall not be included. Sign area shall be calculated by measuring the area determined by the perimeter as previously defined in this section.

“Sign height” means the greater of:

(1) The vertical distance measured from the average finished elevation within the sign outline to the highest point of the sign;

(2) The vertical distance measured from the highest point of the pre-existing natural elevation within the sign outline to the highest point of the sign;

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter, no sign shall exceed 35 feet as measured from the lowest point of the pre-existing natural elevation within the sign outline to the highest point of the sign.

“Sign structure” means any structure which supports or is designed to support any sign as defined in this chapter. A sign structure may be a single pole or may or may not be an integral part of the building.

“Street” means a public way open to public use, including an avenue, place, drive, boulevard, parkway, highway, roadway, or any similar way, except an alley.

“Temporary construction sign” means a sign jointly erected and maintained on premises undergoing construction by an architect, contractor, subcontractor, and/or materialman, upon which property such person is furnishing labor or material.

“Temporary sign” means any sign or advertising display constructed of cloth, canvas, light fabric, paper, cardboard, or other light materials, with or without frames, intended to be displayed for a limited time only.

“Under-marquee sign” means a sign attached to and suspended from the underside of a marquee or canopy.

“Wall sign” means a sign attached or erected parallel to and extending not more than one foot from the facade or face of any building to which it is attached and supported throughout its entire length, with the exposed face of the sign parallel to the plane of the wall or facade. Signs incorporated into mansard roofs, marquees or canopies shall be treated as wall signs. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.030 Permits.

No sign shall hereafter be erected, re-erected, constructed, posted, applied, or structurally altered, except as provided in the ordinance codified in this chapter, and pursuant to a permit issued by the planning manager. A single permit shall be required for each group of signs on a single supporting structure installed simultaneously. Thereafter, each additional sign erected on the structure must have a separate permit.

(1) Exemptions. The following shall not require a permit; provided, however, that these exemptions shall not be construed as relieving the owner from the responsibility of complying with the provisions of this chapter or any other law or ordinance:

(a) The changing of the advertising copy or message on a conforming and lawfully erected painted or printed sign, readerboard, or similar sign specifically designed for the use of replaceable copy;

(b) Painting, repainting, or cleaning of a lawfully erected sign or the changing of the advertising copy thereon and other normal maintenance unless structural or electrical changes are made;

(c) Temporary decorations customary for special holidays erected entirely on private property;

(d) Real estate signs;

(e) Nonelectric, on-premises, directional signs not exceeding eight square feet;

(f) Incidental signs;

(g) Political signs;

(h) One nonelectric, on-premises bulletin board not exceeding 25 square feet in area for each charitable or religious organization;

(i) One temporary construction sign per street frontage;

(j) Temporary signs displayed for 31 days or less;

(k) One nonelectric, portable sign not exceeding 12 square feet located on premises;

(l) Signs required by law, including but not limited to:

(i) Official or legal notices issued and posted by any public agency or court; or

(ii) Traffic directional or warning signs;

(m) Plaques, tablets or inscriptions indicating the name of a building, date of erection, or other commemorative information, which are an integral part of the building structure or are attached flat to the face of the building, which are nonilluminated, and which do not exceed four square feet in surface area;

(n) State or federal flags;

(o) Religious symbols; and

(p) The flag of a commercial institution; provided, no more than one on-site flag is permitted per business premises, or one per tenant in a multi-tenant building; and further provided, the flag does not exceed 20 square feet in surface area.

(2) Permit Requirements. Applications for sign permits shall be made to the planning manager on forms provided and shall be accompanied by:

(a) Two site plans showing the location of the affected lot, building or buildings, and sign or signs, showing both existing sign(s) and the proposed sign or signs;

(b) Two copies of a scale drawing of the proposed sign or sign revision, including size, height, copy, structural and footing details, material specifications, method of attachment, illumination, front and end views of marquees, calculation for dead load and wind pressure, photographs of site and building marked to show where sign or marquee is proposed, and any other information required to ensure compliance with appropriate laws;

(c) Written consent of the owner of the building, structure or property where the sign is to be erected;

(d) A permit fee as provided in subsection (4) of this section.

(3) Exceptions. The planning manager may waive submission of plans and specifications when the structural aspect is of minor importance.

(4) Permit Fees. Permit fees shall be in accordance with fee schedules set by ordinance of the city council.

(5) Variances. The hearing examiner may permit variances from the provisions of this chapter as provided in Chapter 18.20 NPMC. (Ord. 833 § 8, 2009; Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.040 General provisions.

The following regulations shall apply to all signs:

(1) Structural Requirements. The structure and installation of all signs shall comply with the latest adopted edition of the International Building Code.

(2) Maintenance of Signs. All signs, together with all of their supports, braces, guys, and anchors, shall be maintained in good repair and in a safe, neat, clean and attractive condition.

(3) Abandoned Signs. Abandoned signs shall be removed by the owner or lessee of the premises upon which the sign is located within 90 days after the business or service advertised by the sign is no longer conducted on the premises.

(4) Illumination of Signs.

(a) Signs with external lighting are encouraged. However, the light directed on, or internal to, any sign shall be so shaded, shielded, and/or directed so that the light intensity or brightness shall not adversely affect safe vision of operators of vehicles moving on private or public property or pedestrians on a public right-of-way.

(b) Backlit logos and individual letters are permitted. Other backlit signs are prohibited.

(c) Signs with neon lighting are permitted.

(5) Clearance and Sight Distance. Signs must maintain a minimum of eight feet of vertical clearance over pedestrian ways and 15 square feet of vertical clearance over areas where trucks may be required to pass beneath them.

(6) Real Estate Signs. Real estate signs shall be limited to one sign per street frontage on the premises for sale, lease or rent. Real estate directional open house signs may not exceed four square feet in area.

(7) Political Signs. Political signs shall be removed by the political campaign committee within 10 days after the final election involving the candidate or issue advertised by the sign.

(8) Temporary Signs. No temporary sign shall be displayed longer than 31 days.

(9) Development and Construction Signs. A temporary sign calling attention to the future development of a site may be placed on the site for a period not to exceed six months; provided, that the sign meets the required setbacks for a structure and its area does not exceed 64 square feet. At start of construction, a temporary construction sign not exceeding 64 square feet may be placed on the site with no more than one sign per street frontage and shall be removed upon completion of the project.

(10) Nonelectric, nonmarquee, on-premises church signs, not exceeding an area of 35 square feet for a single-faced sign, or 35 square feet for each face of a double-faced sign, shall be permitted.

(11) Height and Setback. All signs must comply with height and setback requirements of the zone in which they are located.

(12) Sign Design. The applicant shall demonstrate how the proposed sign or signs is/are architecturally compatible with the style, materials, colors, and details of the (primary) building.

(13) The use of symbols for signage is encouraged.

(14) Street numbers should be installed on all buildings and will not be counted towards permitted sign area.

(15) Sign Materials and Construction. All signs, except temporary signs, must be constructed of durable, maintainable materials. Signs that are made of materials that deteriorate quickly or that feature impermanent construction are not permitted. For example, plywood or plastic sheets without a sign face overlay or without a frame to protect exposed edges are not permitted. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.045 Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited:

(1) Signs which by coloring, shape, wording, or location resemble or conflict with traffic-control signs or devices;

(2) Signs that create a safety hazard for pedestrian or vehicular traffic;

(3) Signs employing moving or flashing lights or video;

(4) Portable signs exceeding 12 square feet;

(5) Signs attached to or placed on a vehicle or trailer parked on public or private property; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as prohibiting the identification of a firm or its products on a vehicle operating during the normal course of business. Franchised buses and taxis are exempt from this provision;

(6) Off-premises signs, except temporary real estate open house directional signs, political signs, public service/civic event signs and garage sale signs;

(7) Any sign affixed to or painted on trees, rocks, or other natural features or utility poles;

(8) Roof signs;

(9) All portable readerboard signs;

(10) Posters, pennants, strings of light, blinking lights, balloons, searchlights and other displays of carnival nature;

(11) Pole-mounted signs;

(12) Visible ballast boxes or other sign equipment;

(13) Cardboard signs;

(14) Backlit signs except as specified in NPMC 18.30.040(4)(b);

(15) Billboards; and

(16) Revolving signs. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.050 Sign provisions for residential zones.

In addition to the restrictions and regulations contained in the general provisions section, the following provisions apply to residential zones:

(1) R-5, R-7.2, R-10, R-12.5, R-15, R-20, and PRD Zoning Districts. The following signs are permitted:

(a) Nameplate signs shall be permitted. Real estate signs shall not exceed four square feet in area.

(2) RM-1800 and RM-2400 Zones. In RM-1800 and RM-2400 zones, the following signs are permitted:

(a) One nameplate per unit not exceeding four square feet.

(b) One freestanding sign not exceeding 42 inches in height and 12 square feet in area, to contain the name of the complex, day nursery, retirement home, rest home, nursing home, or convalescent home, and not extending into any required yard on the lot. Flashing, electric, and readerboard signs are prohibited. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.055 Identification signs for public schools.

One monument sign identifying the school name and address using materials that tie the sign to the new school shall be allowed on the Marvista school site. The dimensions of the monument sign shall not exceed 40 square feet and be no taller than five feet. Directional signs shall also be allowed on this site directing the public to entrances and exits. A sign with a maximum 20-square-foot reader board sign area shall also be allowed on the school building or the drive loop drop off area of the interior parking area, no closer than 100 feet from the public right-of-way. (Ord. 838 § 1, 2009).

18.30.060 Sign provisions for commercial zones.

In addition to the restrictions and regulations contained in the general provisions section, the following provisions shall apply within the MU and NC zones:

(1) Portable Signs. Portable signs shall not exceed 12 square feet in sign area and no more than one such sign may be displayed per business. Portable signs must be located on the premises to which they may relate. Portable signs may only be displayed during the business hours of the business to which they relate.

(2) Freestanding Signs.

(a) Height Measurement. Freestanding signs shall be measured from the highest point of the sign to the finished grade at the base of the sign support. Finished grade shall be the final grade approved through the site plan review process and shall not be increased for purposes of increasing overall sign height.

(b) Height Standards. Freestanding ground signs shall not exceed 12 feet in height.

(c) Clearance Standards. Freestanding signs which abut the edge of a sidewalk shall have a maximum clearance of 27 inches.

(d) Maximum Sign Area. For single tenant developments, maximum sign area shall not exceed 50 square feet per side. For multiple tenant developments, maximum sign area shall not exceed 120 square feet per side or one square foot of sign area for every three feet of frontage the sign is located on, whichever is less.

(e) Materials. Monument signs shall be designed incorporating natural materials (e.g., granite or basalt stone facing, wood, landscaping), muted colors, and design styles characteristic to the Northwest.

(f) Location. Freestanding signs may not be located on public property. The placement of freestanding signs shall be in such a fashion and location as to not obstruct the view of signs of adjacent property owners. Spacing between freestanding signs must be a minimum of 150 feet.

(g) Density. One freestanding sign shall be permitted on each street frontage of property on which the business is located. Sites on a corner of two public streets may have one sign on the corner instead of a sign for each frontage, subject to approval by the city manager or designee. Commercial properties with more than 1,000 feet of continuous street frontage and with more than one entrance may install a freestanding sign at each entrance; provided, that no single sign exceeds the maximum sign area described under subsection (2)(d) of this section. Where there is frontage on more than one street, each frontage is treated independently.

(h) Lettering. Freestanding signs should include the street address number with six-inch minimum lettering that is clearly readable from the street. Lettering style, form, size, dimension, and color shall be consistent on signs identifying multiple tenants.

(i) Landscaping. Freestanding signs must be landscaped around the base of the sign.

(i) Each sign should have a landscaped area twice the size of the sign area and the plantings or landscaping shall be arranged so as to shield illumination sources. The landscaping and sign base shall be protected from vehicles by a six-inch-high curb (or equivalent) at least three feet from the sign base.

(ii) Landscaping shall be installed in the planting season closest to the date of the sign permit issuance. Signs installed after the planting season shall be landscaped by no later than the following planting season.

(iii) Landscaping shall consist of native drought tolerant plants and shall be maintained so it is free from weeds and promotes an attractive appearance.

(iv) These requirements may be waived by the city manager or designee if the sign is located in an area that is part of an approved overall site landscape plan.

(3) Wall Signs. Wall signs should be designed and located appropriate to the building’s architecture. For example, wall signs should not cover windows, building trim or ornamentation.

(a) Tenants are allowed a maximum of one wall sign per facade that contains public entry, up to a maximum of two facades, unless otherwise approved by the city manager or designee.

(b) Maximum Size – Individual Business. Sign area shall not exceed two square feet for each lineal foot of the structure’s primary facade (the facade facing the street or as identified by the city manager or designee). Businesses located adjacent to street corners and containing pedestrian entries from both streets may feature wall signs not exceeding two square feet for each lineal foot of building frontage on applicable street facing facades. Businesses may include wall signs not exceeding one square foot for each lineal frontage of secondary facades facing a walkway, public plaza, or parking lot as long as the facade contains a pedestrian entry.

Figure 18.30.060(3) Dimensional requirements for wall signs

(c) Maximum Size – Building or Center Name. A wall sign up to 100 square feet or five percent (whichever is less) to identify the name of the building or shopping center.

(d) Maximum Size – Joint Business Directory. A wall sign up to 50 square feet for joint business directory signs identifying the occupants of a commercial building and located next to the entrance.

(e) Maximum Height. Wall signs may not extend above the building parapet, soffit, the eave line or the roof of the building, or the window sill of the second story.

(f) Mounting. Building signs must be mounted plumb with the building, with a maximum protrusion of one foot unless the sign incorporates sculptural elements or architectural devices. The sign frame must be concealed or integrated into the building’s architectural character in terms of form, color, and materials.

(g) Lettering. The maximum height for lettering is three feet. The maximum height for logos is four feet. Greater heights for lettering and logos may be approved by the city manager or designee when located and designed appropriate for the building.

(h) When a commercial complex provides spaces for signs above window displays, these signs should be compatible in shape, scale of letters, size, color, lighting, materials and style.

(i) If applicant demonstrates to the satisfaction of the city manager or designee that a wall sign is creative, artistic and integral part of the architecture, the city manager may waive the above restrictions.

(4) Projecting Signs. Projecting signs meeting the following conditions are allowed for commercial uses facing the street:

(a) Clearance. Shall clear sidewalk by eight feet.

(b) Projection. Shall not project more than four feet from the building facade, unless the sign is a part of a permanent marquee or awning over the sidewalk.

(c) Height. Shall not extend above the building parapet, soffit, the eave line or the roof of the building.

(5) Marquee Signs. Marquee signs meeting the following conditions are allowed for commercial uses:

(a) Maximum Size. The sign area shall not exceed 65 percent of the vertical face of the marquee, canopy, or awning.

(b) Maximum Height. The height of a vertical face (valance) of a marquee, canopy, or awning shall not exceed one foot. Signage shall not be placed on the sloping portion of a canopy or awning.

(c) Clearance. The marquee, canopy, or awnings must be placed a minimum of eight feet above the sidewalk or walkway.

(6) Under Marquee Signs. Under marquee signs meeting the following conditions are allowed for commercial uses:

(a) Projection. Under marquee signs shall have one foot minimum between the sign and the outer edge of the marquee, awning, or canopy and between the sign and the building facade.

(b) Clearance. Under marquee signs shall maintain a minimum clearance of eight feet between the walkway and the bottom of the sign.

(c) Vertical Dimension. Under marquee signs shall not exceed two feet in height.

(7) Window Signs. Window signs meeting the following conditions are allowed for commercial uses:

(a) Maximum Size. Permanent and temporary window signs are limited to maximum 25 percent of the window area. Every effort should be made to integrate window signs with window display.

(b) Materials. Window signs constructed of neon, stained glass, gold leaf, cut vinyl, and etched glass are allowed. Painted signs must display the highest level of quality and permanence as determined by the city manager or designee.

(c) An internally lit neon or stained glass window sign is allowed. (Ord. 881 § 1, 2012; Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).

18.30.070 Administration – Enforcement.

(1) Removal of Signs. The city manager shall order the removal of any sign erected, installed, or maintained in violation of this chapter. The manager shall give written notice, by mail, specifying the violation to the holder of the sign permit or the owner of the property where the sign is erected, to correct the violation or remove the sign within 30 days. In the event the violation is not corrected within 30 days, a citation shall be issued to the owner of the sign or the owner of the property where the sign is located. If, in the opinion of the city manager, the condition of the sign presents an immediate threat to the safety of the public, the enforcing officer may cause immediate removal of the sign at cost to the owner of the sign.

(2) Penalties. Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of an infraction and fined no less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00. Each day the violation continues constitutes a separate infraction.

(3) Nonconforming Signs. Nonconforming signs that are permanently installed and were legally installed prior to the adoption of this chapter shall be deemed legally nonconforming and allowed to continue in use so long as they are continuously maintained, are not relocated, or are not structurally altered or made less conforming in any way.

(a) Legal nonconforming signs may be removed for cleaning and routine maintenance, i.e., changing of lighting and wiring.

(b) Any legal nonconforming sign that is relocated or replaced shall be brought into conformance immediately, or removed within 90 days.

(c) If a business ceases to operate, all existing nonconforming signs associated with the business shall be removed by the property owner within 90 days. If the business had signage on a mall sign or building or related structure, the surface or facade or structure at the previous location of the nonconforming sign(s) shall be repaired at the time of nonconforming sign removal.

(d) A nonconforming sign, when being an accessory to a business operation which changes its use or location, shall no longer be considered a legal sign and shall be removed within 90 days. (Ord. 743 § 4, 2004).