Chapter 18.170


18.170.010    Purpose.

18.170.020    Applicability.

18.170.030    General sign provisions.

18.170.040    Exemptions.

18.170.050    Prohibited signs.

18.170.060    Wall-mounted signs.

18.170.070    Freestanding signs.

18.170.080    Temporary signs.

18.170.090    Sandwich board signs.

18.170.100    Nonconforming signs.

18.170.110    Variance.

18.170.120    Permit required.

18.170.130    Installation and maintenance requirements.

18.170.140    Administration.

18.170.150    Enforcement.

*    Prior ordinance history: Ord. 84-41.

18.170.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life, health, property and public welfare by regulating and controlling the number, size, design, quality of materials, construction, location, electrification and maintenance of all signs and sign structures; to preserve and improve the appearance of the city as a place in which to live and as an attraction to nonresidents who come to visit or trade; to encourage sound signage practices as an aid to business and for public information but to prevent excessive and confusing signing displays. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.010)

18.170.020 Applicability.

No signs shall be erected or maintained in the city except those signs specifically identified in this chapter. The number and size of signs as outlined in the respective zoning district sections are maximum standards. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013)

18.170.030 General sign provisions.

A.    General Provisions.

1.    No new sign shall be erected nor any existing sign structurally altered that is not in compliance with these standards and has received the proper sign permit. (See also Section 18.170.100, Nonconforming signs.)

2.    All signs shall be kept in good repair and shall be maintained in a safe, neat, clean and attractive condition.

3.    Abandoned signs shall be removed.

4.    Out-of-date signs shall be removed within five days after the event, time, or purpose of the sign no longer applies.

5.    No sign shall be erected or maintained in such a manner that any portion of its surface or supports will interfere in any way with the free use of any fire escape, exit or standpipe. No sign shall be erected or maintained so as to obstruct any window so that light or ventilation is reduced below minimum standards required by an applicable law or the International Building Code.

6.    Signs shall not interfere, confuse or conflict with the recognition and visibility of any traffic control or directional devices or street name signs, nor shall any sign be so placed as to cause visual obstruction of any public rights-of-way. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.090)

18.170.040 Exemptions.

The following signs do not require a permit:

A.    Signs erected by government agencies, such as street signs; traffic control and pedestrian signs and signals; governmental directional signs; signs required by law and governmental flags.

B.    Temporary signs subject to the requirements of Section 18.170.080.

C.    On-premises occupant name plates on residential dwelling units.

D.    Changing of advertising on a legal changeable copy sign (readerboard).

E.    On-premises contractor job signs not exceeding sixteen square feet in area, in conjunction with construction with an approved land use or building permit.

F.    Normal maintenance of signs that does not change the appearance of the sign.

G.    On-premises directional signs not exceeding six square feet, the sole purpose of which is to provide for vehicular and pedestrian traffic direction and which display no advertising.

H.    Indoor window signs when not exceeding twenty-five percent of the total window area; provided, that open/closed signs, address, and hours are not included.

I.    Legal notices required by law.

J.    Barber poles.

K.    Holiday decorations.

L.    Tourist signs located on city property and approved by the city council. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 2000-19 §§ 3, 5, 2000; Ord. 88-49 § 2, 1988; Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.040, 18.64.060)

18.170.050 Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited within the city:

A.    Abandoned signs.

B.    Bench signs.

C.    Billboards.

D.    Electronic readerboard, animated, flashing, revolving or any other moving signs; provided, that the moving hands of a clock, changing numerals of a time and/or temperature, or in association with a school or theater, be permitted.

E.    Off-premises signs; except signs specifically authorized or exempted herein.

F.    Portable readerboard signs.

G.    Roof-mounted signs, including any signs painted directly on the roof surface.

H.    Signs or sign structures that by coloring, shape, working or location resemble or conflict with traffic control signs or devices.

I.    Signs that create a safety hazard for pedestrian, cyclist or vehicular traffic.

J.    Signs larger than two square feet in area attached to or placed on a vehicle or trailer on public or private property to purposefully gain additional signage which would otherwise not be allowed; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as prohibiting the identification of a business or its products on a vehicle operating during the normal course of business. Franchised delivery vehicles, buses or taxis are exempt from this provision.

K.    Signs attached to utility poles or traffic signs.

L.    Signs within the public right-of-way except political signs, community event signs, sandwich board signs, garage or rummage sale signs, real estate open house or caravan tour signs, kiosks and signs which overhang the public right-of-way as specifically authorized herein.

M.    Signs contrary to or intended to circumvent the provisions of this chapter.

N.    Streamers, pendants, balloons, searchlights and other similar devices that are displayed more than fourteen consecutive days. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 2000-19 § 2, 2000; Ord. 93-31 § 1, 1993; Ord. 89-01 § 1, 1989; Ord. 88-49 § 1, 1988; Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.030)

18.170.060 Wall-mounted signs.

A.    Size, number and other provisions for wall-mounted sign requirements are as set forth under each specific zoning district provisions.

B.    Signs standing out horizontally from a mansard roof are considered wall signs; however, if the mansard is located at the top of the building, the sign shall not exceed the top of the mansard’s roof line.

C.    Marquee, canopy, and awning signs are considered wall signs for purpose of determining sign area.

D.    No part of a sign shall extend above the roof; provided, that for mansard signs, the sign shall not exceed the top of the building’s roof line.

E.    Painted Wall Signs. If a substantial change is made to the original appearance of a painted wall sign, such as rewording, redesigning or enlarging, this shall constitute a new sign and require a permit.

F.    Awning Signs. Only the area containing the sign band may be internally lit.

G.    Projecting Signs.

1.    Clearance from grade is a minimum of eight feet.

2.    Projection from face of building shall not exceed four feet. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013)

18.170.070 Freestanding signs.

A.    Size, number and other provisions for freestanding sign requirements is as set forth under each specific zoning district provisions.

B.    Freestanding signs shall be located entirely on the premises of the use they are associated with, unless otherwise allowed.

C.    Freestanding signs shall be located outside of the sight distance clearance area as required by the city engineer.

D.    Landscaping at the base of the freestanding sign is required, providing a landscaping area equal to square footage of one face of the freestanding sign; however, this provision does not apply to temporary freestanding signs.

E.    Electronic readerboard signs are only allowed for schools or theaters. Temperature and time are allowed in conjunction with permitted freestanding sign in other nonresidential zoning districts. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013)

18.170.080 Temporary signs.

Except as otherwise described under this section, no permit is necessary for temporary signs. Temporary signs are not allowed to continually advertise goods, services or events on a site; permanent signs shall be used for that purpose. Temporary signs shall not endanger the public safety and shall be removed or relocated if the building official determines that a sign is unsafe.

A.    Grand Opening/Special Event.

1.    A temporary sign advertising a special event, sale, promotion, opening/closing of a business or opening of a business under new management shall not be displayed for more than fourteen consecutive days.

2.    A permit shall be required if the sign is to be displayed longer than the maximum fourteen days. Signs which are regularly changed but generally present, or otherwise intended to circumvent the temporary sign provisions, shall require a permit and shall be included in the site’s overall signage.

3.    Small pennants, balloons, banners and streamers may be displayed in conjunction with a special event, but must be removed at the conclusion of the event or within fourteen consecutive days.

B.    Community Announcement/Event Signs.

1.    City Community Announcement Signs. Two signs located on SR 305 are managed by the city to advertise special events and community activities for nonprofit organizations. Commercial advertising is not allowed.

2.    Banners in C-1 Zoning District across Front Street. Banners advertising special events in downtown Poulsbo are allowed to cross the Front Street right-of-way. The Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association manages the approved banner location.

3.    Community announcement/event banners in all other zoning districts on or above public right-of-way are subject to city council approval.

4.    Portable off-premises signs no larger than three square feet per sign face announcing the community event are allowed forty-eight hours prior to the event and shall be removed within twenty-four hours after the event. Announcement signs may be placed in unpaved portions of public rights-of-way only, and must be self-supported by a stake or similar device. Care must be taken to assure that the placement of such signs will not create a hazard to the public by obstructing the view or passage of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.

C.    Garage Sale Signs.

1.    Signs placed may be placed in the unpaved portions of public rights-of-way only, and must be self-supported by a stake or similar device. Care must be taken to assure that the placement of such signs will not create a hazard to the public by obstructing the view or passage of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.

2.    Garage or rummage sale signs shall not be displayed for longer than three consecutive days and must be removed within twenty-four hours after the sale. Garage or rummage sale signs may not be displayed more than six times during any twelve-month period for direction to a sale on the same premises.

D.    Construction Signs. Sign copy shall be limited to information about a development or building that has received a land use approval or building permit by the city. Duration shall be during the time of active construction. Maximum area shall be thirty-two square feet, shall not have more than two sign faces, and limited to ten feet in height.

E.    Special Purpose Sign. A special purpose sign is a temporary sign to be displayed less than ninety consecutive days in a calendar year for a purpose not anticipated by this chapter, but not in conflict with it, or in a unique situation as determined by the planning director. The total of the special purpose sign shall not exceed thirty-two square feet.

F.    Real Estate Signs.

1.    A sign permit is not required for real estate signs; provided, that the sign is removed within five days of the final sale or rental. Signs not meeting the standards identified below will be required to obtain a sign permit.

a.    Residential Zoning Districts’ “For Sale,” “For Rent” and “Sold” Signs. Such signs shall be limited to one sign per street frontage not to exceed six square feet in sign area per face, placed wholly on the property for sale, and not to exceed a height of six feet.

b.    Commercial and Business/Employment Zoning Districts’ “For Sale or Rent” Signs. One sign per street frontage advertising commercial property for sale or for rent is permitted while the property is actually for sale or rent. The sign shall not exceed forty square feet in sign area per side and twelve feet in height.

2.    Off-premises signs are allowed when advertising an open house or real estate caravan tour, provided:

a.    Signs must be placed on property along the street frontage on which the open house is held; private property with the owner’s permission; and/or in nearby unpaved public right-of-way; provided, that signs placed in public rights-of-way must be self-supported, may not be attached to utility poles or traffic signs, and must not create a hazard to the public by obstructing the view or passage of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.

b.    Signs are no larger than three square feet per sign face.

c.    Allowed only during daylight hours and when the broker, agent, or seller is in attendance at the property.

G.    Political Signs.

1.    Placement. Political signs may not be attached to traffic safety devices, telephone poles, power poles, or other public utility facilities. They may be placed upon private property or within public rights-of-way. Signs placed in public rights-of-way must not create a hazard to the public by obstructing the view or passage of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.

2.    Removal. All political signs must be removed five days after the election in which the candidates or issue on the sign has been determined. However, after primary elections, if the candidate or issue is going into the general election, signs may remain until five days after the general election. The candidate or committee for which the sign is displayed shall be responsible for its removal.

H.    Banner Signs.

1.    One banner sign shall be allowed per business and attached to a wall, fascia, mansard (which is attached to a building wall), canopy or awning. No freestanding banners shall be permitted.

2.    No individual banner shall exceed forty square feet in size.

3.    All banners shall be maintained. Any damaged banner signs shall be immediately repaired, replaced or removed.

4.    Banner signs are temporary and shall not be displayed more than fourteen consecutive days.

I.    Feather Sign.

1.    A feather sign (also known as bow or teardrop sign) is a sign made of fabric and supported by a vertical pole of various lengths, and inserted into the ground.

2.    A feather sign cannot exceed nine feet in height.

3.    Feather signs are temporary and shall not be displayed more than fourteen consecutive days.

4.    Feather signs shall be located on the premises or in right-of-way immediately adjacent to the business, organization or use it is advertising or identifying. No off-premises placement is allowed. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 2000-19 § 6, 2000. Formerly 18.64.065)

18.170.090 Sandwich board signs.

A.    Permit Required. Sandwich board signs intended for permanent display (more than fourteen days in a calendar year) shall be required to obtain a sandwich board sign permit from the city. The annual permit shall be valid for the calendar year and shall expire on December 31st of said year.

1.    As part of the sandwich board sign permit for signs to be located in the public right-of-way, the applicant shall be required to provide a signed and notarized statement assuming all liability for any damage resulting from their use of the sandwich board sign, and holding the city harmless from any losses.

2.    The permit application shall include the following information and be processed in accordance with Section 18.170.120:

a.    Size and height.

b.    Intended placement location(s) on and off premises.

c.    Materials.

B.    Type.

1.    On-premises sandwich board signs are placed on property where the business, use or organization is located or immediately adjacent to the business, use or organization frontage.

2.    Off-premises sandwich board signs are placed off premises from the physical location of the business, use or organization, and includes being placed in the public right-of-way.

C.    Size. Sandwich board signs shall not exceed six square feet in size per face and shall not exceed four feet in height. The sign shall not be artificially increased above the allowed maximum height by elevating the sign off of ground level by any means.

D.    Number. No more than one sandwich board sign shall be permitted for any business, organization, or use; provided, that upon a demonstration of hardship, the planning director may permit one additional sandwich board sign.

E.    Placement.

1.    Sandwich board signs may be located on premises or off premises, but cannot exceed the total number of signs allowed per business, organization or use.

2.    On-premises sandwich board signs must be located on property directly in front of the business displaying the sign, or in right-of-way on the same side of street and immediately adjacent to the business.

3.    Off-premises sandwich board signs are not allowed in public parks, or on private property without owner’s consent.

4.    Off-premises sandwich board signs are allowed only for businesses or organizations located within the Poulsbo city limits, and have a valid business license.

a.    Sandwich board signs advertising businesses or organizations not physically located and operated within the city limits are not permitted.

5.    Sandwich board signs are not to be placed on sidewalks, except in the C-1 zoning district; provided, that minimum ADA sidewalk width remains available.

6.    Signs shall not create a traffic safety hazard by obstructing the view or passage of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.

7.    Sign placement may not obstruct an entrance to a building, steps or driveway access.

8.    No sign may be placed within a sight vision clearance triangle or within five feet of a wheelchair ramp.

9.    No sign shall be placed within the roadway, traffic island, median or circle.

F.    On- and off-premises signs may be displayed only during the hours of eight a.m. to nine p.m. on days the business displaying such sign is open. When off-premises sandwich board signs are continuously displaced and not removed daily, the city shall have the authority to remove said sign pursuant to Section 18.170.140(B), and may revoke its permit.

G.    Sandwich board signs determined to pose a threat to the public’s safety or are located in sight clearance areas will be removed by the city, under the provisions of Section 18.170.140(B).

H.    Lighting, streamers, balloons, windsocks, and other materials shall not be attached to sandwich board signs.

I.    Signs shall be constructed of weather-resistant materials, professionally lettered and neatly painted. The sign shall be constructed to avoid being blown, tipping or falling from its intended location. Signs shall remain in good condition, and repaired and maintained as needed. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013)

18.170.100 Nonconforming signs.

A.    Any sign lawfully existing prior to the adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter, but which does not conform to the specific provisions of this chapter, may continue unchanged.

B.    A legal nonconforming sign may lose said designation if any of the following occur:

1.    The sign is not continuously maintained and repaired as required by Section 18.170.130.

2.    If the sign structure is relocated (at the owner’s initiative), enlarged, or is structurally altered in any way except to conform to this chapter.

3.    If the cost to repair or redesign a nonconforming sign exceeds fifty-five percent of the replacement cost of a conforming sign.

4.    If a site is approved for a new primary building, or an existing primary building is approved for substantial construction, all signs shall meet the requirements of this chapter.

C.    A sign replacing a nonconforming sign shall conform to this chapter. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 2000-19 § 9, 2000. Formerly 18.64.165)

18.170.110 Variance.

A variance to the requirements of this chapter may be applied for in conformance with the provisions of Chapter 18.290. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2011-02 § 12 (Exh. A (10-11) (part)), 2011: Ord. 2003-16 § 38 (part), 2003: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 2000-19 § 10, 2000: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.170)

18.170.120 Permit required.

A.    Sign permit applications shall be submitted to the city of Poulsbo building department upon a form provided by the city and shall contain the following information:

1.    Name, address and telephone number of the owner of the sign;

2.    Name of the business that sign is advertising or the name of the group, organization or event the sign is publicizing;

3.    Street address and zoning of the property on which the sign is to be located;

4.    Name, address, telephone number, city business license number, and state contractor’s license number of the sign contractor, if other than the business or development owner;

5.    The total value of the sign or signs;

6.    Dimensions of the building facade if applicable;

7.    Total area of any existing nonexempt signs;

8.    Number and dimensions of proposed signs;

9.    Two copies of a site plan showing the proposed location (relative to property lines, existing structures, and pedestrian and/or automobile circulation area), height and square footage of each new sign along with the locations, heights and square footages of all existing signs on the same premises;

10.    Two copies of a mounting/installation plan. The plan must be drawn to scale and include the dimensions, materials, design, and structural supports of each proposed sign.

B.    Once a complete set of plans and an application have been submitted to the city, the building official and planning director will review the plans for conformance with this chapter and the International Sign Code and either issue, issue with conditions, or deny the sign permit. Sign permit fees must be paid prior to permit issuance.

C.    Sign permit fees shall be as set forth in Section 15.04.160.

D.    A sign permit will become null and void if work is not commenced within ninety days of issuance or if work is suspended or abandoned for more than ninety days.

E.    If any sign is installed or placed on any property prior to receipt of a permit, the specified permit fee may be doubled. However, payment of the doubled fee shall not relieve any person of any requirements or penalties prescribed in this code.

F.    In order to obtain a permit for the erection of a sign in the city (except painted wall signs and sandwich board signs), the applicant must have a Washington State contractor’s license under Chapter 18.27 RCW, unless he/she is going to install a sign upon his/her own property and is exempted from such requirement by such statute.

G.    The applicant and/or contractor shall notify the building department upon completion of the sign installation. The building official will complete a final inspection of the sign.

1.    It is the responsibility of the applicant and/or contractor to contact the State Department of Labor and Industries for inspection of the electrical components of illuminated signs. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-16 § 38 (part), 2003; Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003; Ord. 2000-19 §§ 4, 8, 2000; Ord. 97-31 § 2, 1997; Ord. 89-01 § 2, 1989; Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.050, 18.64.100—18.64.130)

18.170.130 Installation and maintenance requirements.

A.    Structural Requirements. The structure and erection of signs within the city shall be governed by the city’s adopted building code.

B.    Electrical Requirements. Electrical requirements for signs within the city shall be governed by the National Electrical Code.

C.    Maintenance. All signs, including signs heretofore installed, shall be constantly maintained in a state of security, safety, appearance and repair. If any sign is found not to be so maintained or is insecurely fastened or otherwise dangerous, it shall be the duty of the owner and/or occupant of the premises on which the sign is fastened to repair or remove the sign within five days after receiving notice from the city. The premises surrounding a freestanding sign shall be free and clear of rubbish and landscaping area maintained in a tidy manner.

1.    The planning director may order the repair or removal of any sign that, in the determination of the building official, is defective, damaged or substantially deteriorated. If the city must take action to remove such a sign, the cost of removal shall be charged to the sign owner.

D.    Inspection. All sign users shall permit the periodic inspection of their signs by the city upon request.

E.    Location. All monument and temporary signs (such as construction signs and property “for sale” signs) must be set back a minimum of five feet from any property lines, or outside the sight triangle established by the city engineer, whichever is greater. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.140)

18.170.140 Administration.

A.    Administration. The planning director shall administer and enforce all provisions of this chapter. The planning director and/or building official are empowered, upon presentation of proper credentials, to enter or inspect any building, structure, or premises in the city for the purpose of inspection of a sign and its structural and electrical connections to ensure compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances. Such inspections shall be carried out during business hours unless an emergency exists.

B.    Removal of Signs.

1.    The following may be removed by the city without notice:

a.    Any sign that has not been removed within thirty days after conviction of a violation or imposition of a civil penalty.

b.    Signs that the city finds on public streets, sidewalks, rights-of-way, other public property, or wheresoever located, which present an immediate and serious danger to the public’s safety, may be immediately removed by the city.

c.    Sandwich board signs that the city finds are in violation of this chapter.

d.    Signs, including sandwich board signs, which have not received proper city permit.

2.    Neither the city nor any of its agents shall be liable for any damage to any sign removed under this section.

3.    The sign owner may reclaim signs removed by the city within thirty days of the removal date by paying a fee or other procedure as established by the city. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 91-33 § 4, 1991: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.150)

18.170.150 Enforcement.

It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to violate or fail to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter. Enforcement and violation procedures are set forth in Chapter 18.320. (Ord. 2013-04 § 2 (Exh. A (part)), 2013: Ord. 2003-10 § 3 (part), 2003: Ord. 91-33 § 5, 1991: Ord. 88-42 § 1 (part), 1988. Formerly 18.64.160)