Chapter 20.38
SIGNS*

Sections:

20.38.010    Intent.

20.38.020    Definitions and abbreviations.

20.38.030    Contractor’s license required.

20.38.040    Permits required.

20.38.050    Permits—Applications.

20.38.060    Signage plan required.

20.38.070    Fee schedule.

20.38.080    Exemptions.

20.38.090    Prohibited signs.

20.38.100    Temporary signs.

20.38.110    Construction standards.

20.38.120    Illumination.

20.38.130    Maintenance.

20.38.140    Landscaping for freestanding and ground signs.

20.38.150    Inspection.

20.38.160    More restrictive provision to apply.

20.38.170    District regulations.

20.38.180    Exception and appeal.

20.38.190    Nonconforming signs.

20.38.200    Termination of signs.

20.38.210    Administration.

20.38.220    Conflict and severability.

20.38.230    Violation—Penalty.

20.38.240    Removal of unlawful signs.

    *Editor’s Note: Prior ordinance history: Ords. 1310-191 § 2 (part) and 987 § § 21.01, 21.02, 21.03 and 21.04.

20.38.010 Intent.

The intent 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 signing practices as an aid to business and for public information but to prevent excessive and confusing sign displays. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.020 Definitions and abbreviations.

For the purpose of this chapter, definitions as defined herein and certain abbreviations, terms, phrases, words and their derivatives shall be construed as specified in this section.

“Abandoned sign” means any sign which is located on property which becomes vacant and unoccupied for a period of six months or more, or any sign which relates to any occupant or business unrelated to the present occupant or his business, or any sign which pertains to a time, event, or purpose which no longer applies.

“Advertising vehicles” means any vehicle or trailer on a public right-of-way or public property or on private property so as to be visible from a public right-of-way which has attached thereto, or located thereon, any sign or advertising device for the basic purpose of providing advertisement of products or directing people to a business or activity located on the same or nearby property or any other premises.

“Animated sign” means any sign which includes action or motion or the optical illusion of action or motion, or color changes of all or any part of the sign facing, requiring electrical energy, or set in motion by movement of the atmosphere. Excluded from the definition are public service signs, changing message center signs, searchlights and flags.

“Awning” or “canopy” means a temporary shelter supported entirely from the exterior wall of a building.

“Bulletin board” or “readerboard” means a sign so designed that the message may be changed by removal or addition of specially designed letters that attach to the face of the sign.

“Canopy” (see awning).

“Changing message center sign” means an electronically or electrically controlled sign where different automatic changing messages are shown on the same lamp bank.

“City” means the city of Shelton, Washington.

“City manager” means the city manager of the city of Shelton, Washington.

“Construction sign” means any sign used to identify the architects, engineers, contractors or other individuals or firms involved with the construction of a building and announce the character of the building or the purpose for which the building is intended.

“Directory sign” means a sign limited to directional messages, principally for pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

“Flashing sign” means any sign which contains an intermittent or flashing light source or which includes the illusion of intermittent or flashing light by means of animation or an externally mounted intermittent light source. Excluded from the definition are public service and changing message center signs.

“Freestanding sign” means any sign which is supported by one or more uprights, poles or braces in or upon the ground, that is greater than forty-two inches from the ground to the top of the sign.

“Garage sale signs,” i.e., yard sales, moving sales, patio sales, means temporary signs used to announce a sale of used items.

“Grand opening displays” means temporary signs, posters, banners, strings of lights, clusters of flags, balloons and searchlights used to announce the opening of a completely new enterprise or the opening of an enterprise under new management.

“Ground sign” means a sign supported by a wide base of solid appearance that is a minimum of one-half the sign width.

“Height” or “height of sign” means the vertical distance to the highest point of a sign or any vertical projection thereof, including its supporting columns. The height of a sign shall be computed as the distance from the base of the sign at normal grade to the top of the highest attached component of the sign. Normal grade shall be construed to be the newly established grade after construction, exclusive of any filling, berming, mounding, or excavating solely for the purpose of locating the sign.

“Identification sign” means a pole or ground sign which identifies a shopping center.

“Inflatable sign” means balloons or other gas filled figures. For purposes of this chapter, inflatable signs shall be treated as temporary signs.

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

“Legal nonconforming sign” means a sign which: (a) on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter was lawfully maintained and had been lawfully erected in accordance with the provisions of any prior sign ordinance or code but which sign does not conform to the applicable limitations established by this chapter; or (b) on or after the effective date of this chapter was lawfully maintained and erected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter but which sign, by reason of amendment of this chapter after the effective date thereof, does not conform to the applicable limitations established by the amendment of this chapter.

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

“Marquee” means a permanent roofed structure attached to, and supported by, the building.

“Multiple building complex” means a group of structures each housing at least one retail business, office, commercial venture or independent or separate part of a business which shares the same lot, access and/or parking facilities.

“Multiple occupancy building” means a single structure housing more than one retail business, office or commercial enterprise.

“Mural” means a decorative design or scene, containing no commercial messages, logos or corporate symbols, (unless depicting an authentic historical scene), intended only to provide visual enjoyment which is painted or placed upon an exterior building wall.

“Off-premises sign” means a sign that directs attention to a business, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or offered at a location other than the premises on which the sign is located.

“Political sign” means a sign advertising a candidate or candidates for public elective office, or a political party, or sign urging a particular vote on a public issue decided by ballot.

“Portable (mobile) sign” means a sign made of any material which by its design is readily movable and is equipped with wheels, casters or rollers or which is not permanently affixed to the ground, structure or building.

“Projecting sign” means a sign which projects twelve inches or more from, and is supported by, a wall of a building or structure.

“Public service sign” means an electronically or electrically controlled public service sign, or portion of a larger sign which conveys only information such as time, date, temperature, atmospheric condition or general news information where different alternating copy changes are shown on the same lamp bank matrix.

“Real estate or property for sale, rental or lease sign” means any sign pertaining to the sale, lease or rental of land or buildings.

“Roof sign” means any sign erected upon, against or directly above a roof or on top of or above the parapet of a building. A sign shall be considered a flush-mounted sign if it is erected upon a mansard roof, or any other surface meeting the definition of a wall, as contained in the Uniform Building Code.

“Searchlight” means an apparatus containing an electric light and reflector on a swivel for projecting a far-reaching beam in any desired direction.

“Semi-annual event” means an event held no more than twice a year by an individual sponsor, participant, business or agency, and which is on a site normally associated with activities or uses other than the event, and which does not represent or promote a use, product or service normally associated with the site of the event. Special sales or promotions of products or services commonly available on the site, or which are readily available by the sponsor, participant, business or agency associated with the event at a permanent outlet or site do not represent semi-annual events.

“Shopping center” means a commercial development whereupon there are located a number of commercial activities in separate ownership or lease, in which there are appurtenant shared facilities, such as parking and pedestrian mall, and which is designed to provide a single area in which the public can obtain varied products and services.

“Sidewalk or sandwich board sign” means a portable sign having a maximum height of forty-two inches, and a maximum width of twenty-four inches.

“Sign” means any commercial communication device, structure or fixture that is intended to aid an establishment in identification and to advertise and/or promote a business, service, activity or interest. For the purpose of this chapter, a sign shall not be considered to be building or structural design, but shall be restricted solely to graphics, symbols or written copy that is meant to be used in the aforementioned way.

“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. The area of painted signs, individual letter signs and other indirectly illuminated signs shall be calculated on the basis of the smallest rectangle, circle or spherical figure that will enclose the entire copy area of the sign. Any such calculation shall include the areas between letters and lines, as well as the areas of any devices, illuminated or nonilluminated, which are intended to attract attention.

“Special event signs” means temporary signs used to announce a circus, a carnival, festivals or other similar events.

“Structural alteration” means any action that changes the height, size or shape of the sign or any action that affects the base or support(s) of the sign. When a sign is structurally altered, it ceases to be a legal nonconforming sign and must conform with the provisions of this chapter.

“Temporary sign” means any sign, banner, pennant, valence, flags (not intended to include flags of any nation, state, city or other governmental agency or nonprofit organization), searchlights, balloons or other air-filled or gas-filled figures or advertising display constructed of cloth, canvas, light fabric, cardboard, wallboard or other light materials, with or without frame, intended to be displayed for a limited period of time only. Different types of temporary signs included in this category are: construction, grand opening displays, real estate, special event, political and garage sale.

“Wall” means any member or group of members, which defines the exterior boundaries of a building and which has a slope of sixty degrees or greater with the horizontal plane. The height of a wall shall be measured as the two-dimensional height from the average finished grade of the particular architectural building elevation adjacent to the wall to the finish roof plane.

“Wall sign” means any sign attached to or painted directly on the wall, or erected against the wall of a building being parallel or approximately parallel to said wall; and does not exceed a distance of twelve inches from said wall. A permanent sign located inside and affixed to or within three feet of an exterior window shall be considered a wall sign.

“Window sign” means any sign, picture, symbol or combination thereof, not meeting the above definition of “wall sign,” designed to communicate information about an activity, business, commodity, event sale, or service that is placed inside a window or upon the window panes or glass, and is visible from the exterior of the window. (Ord. 1921-0518 (part), 2018; Ord. 1661-1105 § 1, 2005; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.030 Contractor’s license required.

No sign permit shall be issued unless the sign installer has a valid Washington State contractor’s license; provided, however, an applicant may obtain a permit to install a sign on his own property without a state license. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.040 Permits required.

No sign governed by the provisions of this chapter of more than two square feet in sign area shall be erected, structurally altered or relocated by any person, firm or corporation after the date of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter without a sign permit issued by the city (with the exceptions as noted). No new permit is required for signs which have permits and which conform with the requirements of this chapter on the date of its adoption unless and until the sign is structurally altered or relocated. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.050 Permits—Applications.

Applications for sign permits shall contain, at a minimum:

A.    The name and address of the applicant;

B.    The name, address and written consent of the owner of the property on which the sign is to be located, if different than the applicant;

C.    The location of the building, structure or lot to which sign is to be attached, the proposed location of the sign structure, drawings or photographs showing the design and dimensions of the sign and details of its proposed placement and other pertinent information such as materials to be used, colors, and weight as the administrator of this chapter may require to ensure compliance with this chapter and other applicable ordinances. (Scale as specified by the city);

D.    Name and license number of the individual or firm erecting the structure;

E.    Evidence of compliance with the National Electrical Code;

F.    Evidence of insurance or bond, if required;

G.    An approved standard signage plan or common signage plan as per Section 20.38.060. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.060 Signage plan required.

No permit shall be issued for an individual sign requiring a permit unless and until a standard signage plan or a common signage plan for the zone lot on which the sign will be erected has been submitted to the city, and approved as conforming with this section.

A.    A standard signage plan or a common signage plan shall be included in any development plan, site plan, planned unit development plan, or other official plan required by the city for the proposed development, and shall be processed simultaneously with such other plan.

1.    Elements of a Standard Signage Plan. A standard signage plan shall include any or all of the following as required by the city:

a.    An accurate plot plan of the zone lot, at such scale, detail and accuracy as the city may require,

b.    Location of buildings, parking lots, driveways, and landscaped areas on such zone lot,

c.    Individual signs, the height of signs and the number of freestanding signs allowed on the zone lot(s) included in the plan under this chapter,

d.    An accurate indication on the plot plan of the proposed location and size of each present and future sign of any type, whether requiring a permit or not, except that exempt and temporary signs need not be shown,

e.    A provision for the amendment of the standard signage plan by filing a new standard or a new common signage plan that conforms with all requirements of the ordinance then in effect,

f.    Signatures by all owners or their authorized agents in such form as city shall require,

g.    An indication of all window signs proposed if any. The standard signage plan may simply indicate the areas of the windows to be covered by the window signs, and the general type of the window signs (e.g., paper affixed to window, painted, etched on glass, or some other material hung inside the window) and need not specify the exact dimension or nature of every window sign,

h.    A listing of any other restrictions or conditions related to signage on the site as the owners of the zone lots may reasonably determine.

B.    Provisions of a Common Signage Plan. If the owners of two or more contiguous (disregarding intervening alleys) zone lots, or the owner of a single lot with more than one building (not including any accessory building) files with the city for such, a common signage plan conforming with the provisions of this section may be submitted in place of a standard signage plan. Submittal and approval of a common signage plan shall create a twenty-five percent increase in the maximum total sign area allowed for the site. This bonus shall be allocated within each zone lot as the owner(s) elects. This bonus shall apply only to zone lots or plats of ten thousand square feet and larger.

1.    The common signage plan shall contain all of the information required for a standard signage plan, and shall also specify standards for consistency among all signs on the zone lots affected by the plan with regard to color scheme, lettering or graphic style, lighting, location of each sign on the buildings, materials, and sign proportions. Allowed signage on the site may be redistributed between tenant spaces or buildings as per tenant contract, covenant, or other written agreement. A copy of any such agreement shall be provided to and approved by the city. In addition, the following shall also be provided for in a common signage plan:

a.    Elimination of Freestanding Signs Under Common Signage Plan. The common signage plan, for all lots with multiple uses or multiple users, shall exclude any freestanding signs;

b.    Existing Signs Not Conforming to Common Signage Plan. If any new or amended common signage plan is filed for a property on which existing signs are located, it shall include a schedule for bringing into conformance, within three years, all signs not conforming to the proposed amended plan or to the requirements of this chapter in effect on the date of submission;

c.    Dissolution. If either party wishes to dissolve the agreement, all signs erected for the twenty percent bonus shall be removed within sixty days, with prior approval from the city.

C.    Binding Effect. After approval of a standard or a common signage plan, no sign shall be erected, placed, painted or maintained, except in conformance with such plan, and such plan may be enforced in the same way as any provision of this chapter. In case of any conflict between the provisions of such a plan and any other provision of this chapter, the chapter shall control. Approved common signage plans will be recorded with the Mason County auditor. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.070 Fee schedule.

Fees for sign permits shall be established by resolution of the city council. (Ord. 1921-0518 (part), 2018; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.080 Exemptions.

The following signs do not require a sign permit (unless noted), nor shall the area and number of such signs be included in the area and number of signs permitted for any site or use. This shall not be construed as relieving the owner of the sign from the responsibility of its erection and maintenance and its compliance with the provisions of this chapter or any other law or ordinance:

A.    The flag, emblem or insignia of a nation or other governmental unit or nonprofit organization subject to the guidelines concerning their use set forth by the government or organization which they represent. Flag poles require a sign permit for structural review;

B.    Memorial signs or tablets, names of buildings, and dates of erection when cut into the surface or the facade of the building or when permanently attached or integral to the materials of the building and projecting not more than two inches;

C.    Traffic or other municipal signs, signs required by law or emergency, railroad crossing signs, legal notices and signs erected by government agencies to implement public policy;

D.    Signs of public utility companies indicating danger or which serve as an aid to public safety or which show the location of underground facilities or of public telephones;

E.    Flush mounted wall signs, used to identify the name and address of the occupant provided the sign does not exceed two square feet in sign area;

F.    Signs located in the interior of any building or within an enclosed lobby or court of any building or group of buildings, which signs are designed and located to be viewed exclusively by patrons of such use or uses;

G.    Changing of advertising on a legal nonportable changeable copy sign;

H.    Temporary signs or decorations, clearly incidental and customary and commonly associated with any national, local or religious holiday, or traditional community event such as annual festivals or parades;

I.    Painting, repainting or cleaning of an advertising structure or the changing of the advertising copy of message thereon shall not be considered an erection or alteration which requires sign permit unless a structural change is made;

J.    Sculptures, fountains, mosaics and design features which do not incorporate advertising or identification;

K.    “No trespassing,” “no dumping,” “no parking,” “private,” signs identifying essential public needs (i.e., rest rooms, entrance, exit, telephone, etc.) and other informational warning signs, which shall not exceed three square feet in surface area;

L.    Directional signs approved by the city on arterial streets directing the public to public, civic, or nonprofit facilities and meetings of such public, civic, nonprofit and fraternal organizations; provided, that if more than two such signs are placed on a parcel, they be organized on a single support structure. Each individual sign shall not exceed four square feet in size and the total area of signage on a support structure shall not exceed thirty-two square feet;

M.    Murals which do not serve as a commercial communication device or serve to aid an establishment in identification or in the advertising of a business, service, activity, or interest;

N.    Driveway Entrance/Exit Signs. Maximum area four square feet. No advertising permitted. Maximum of forty-two inches above grade;

O.    Window signs, provided illuminated window signs occupy no more than twenty percent of any single window area; and provided, that nonilluminated window signs occupy no more than fifty percent of any single window area. In this context, a window area shall be defined as the total area between mullions or frames rather than the total area between muntins or artificial grids;

P.    Gas station fuel and price signs, if less than sixteen square feet and only fuel type and price are indicated, and conforming to all height requirements of this chapter;

Q.    Historic marker signs, including historic tree and/or tree of significance marker signs, of less than four square feet in area;

R.    Directional signs for churches as approved by the city. (Ord. 1661-1105 § 2, 2005; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.090 Prohibited signs.

Prohibited signs are subject to removal (except legal nonconforming signs or other signs as defined by this chapter) by the city at the owner’s or user’s expense. The following signs or displays are prohibited:

A.    Roof signs;

B.    Animated or flashing signs;

C.    Portable signs, excepting sandwich board signs subject to Section 20.38.170(B)(7);

D.    Advertising Vehicles. Signs that are attached to or placed on or in a vehicle or trailer parked on public or private property such that the primary use or intent becomes advertising. This provision is not to be construed as prohibiting the identification of a firm or its principal products on a vehicle operating during normal course of business. Franchised buses or taxis are exempt from this chapter;

E.    Signs which purport to be, or are, an imitation of, or resemble an official traffic sign or signal, or which bear the words “stop,” “caution,” “danger,” “warning,” or similar words;

F.    Signs which, by reason of their size, location, movement, content, coloring or manner of illumination may be confused with or construed as a traffic control sign, signal or device, or the light of an emergency or radio equipment vehicle, or which obstruct the visibility of traffic or street sign or signal device as determined by the city;

G.    Signs attached to utility poles;

H.    Off-premises signs except as otherwise allowed by this chapter;

I.    Banners, pennants, and graffiti-like material which is not part of a city coordinated streetscape appearance enhancement effort, except as provided for as temporary signs in Section 20.38.100;

J.    Changing message center signs except in shopping center as defined in Section 20.38.170(B)(8);

K.    Billboards;

L.    Signs on public property notifying the public of the existence of and/or directing the public to meetings of public, civic, nonprofit, and fraternal organizations. (Ord. 1661-1105 § 3, 2005; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.100 Temporary signs.

The following signs are classified as temporary (nonpermanent). Temporary signs are permitted subject to the following applicable limitations:

A.    Construction Signs. No sign permit is required. Construction signs are for display of information pertaining to activity on a single parcel of land only. Such signs may be displayed only after a building permit is obtained and during the period of construction on the construction site. Construction signs must be removed within seven days of first occupancy of the structure.

B.    Grand Opening Displays, Going Out of Business Sales, Special Event Signs. Temporary sign permit is required. Temporary signs, posters, banners, strings of lights, clusters of flags, balloons or other air or gas filled figures, and searchlights are permitted for a period of fifteen days only to announce the opening of a completely new enterprise or the opening of an enterprise under new management, sales associated with the closing of a business, or special sales. All such materials shall be removed immediately upon the expiration of fifteen days or at the end of the event, whichever is sooner. Such displays are permitted only in districts where the enterprise so advertised is allowed under district zoning regulations. Searchlights may be permitted by any business or enterprise provided the beam of light does not flash against any building or does not sweep an arc lower than forty-five degrees from vertical. Each parcel of land, or in the case of multitenant parcels, each business premises, shall be allowed a maximum of two temporary sign permits per calendar year.

C.    Real Estate Signs. No sign permit is required. All exterior real estate signs must be of wood or plastic or other durable material. Such signs may be used only during the period that the specified real estate opportunity actually exists. The permitted signs, with applicable limits, are as follows:

1.    Residential “for sale” and “sold” signs: such signs shall be limited to one sign per street frontage not to exceed five square feet in sign area, placed wholly on the property for sale, and not to exceed a height of six feet;

2.    Residential directional “open house” signs: such signs shall be limited to one sign per street frontage on the premises for sale and three off-premises signs. However, if a realtor has more than one house open for inspection in a single development or subdivision, he/she is limited to four off-premises “open house” signs in the entire development or subdivision. Such signs are permitted only during daylight hours and when the realtor or seller or an agent is in attendance at the property for sale. No such sign shall exceed five and five-tenths square feet in sign area. The sign must be placed on private property within one mile of the subject residential development;

3.    Undeveloped commercial and industrial property “for sale or rent” signs: one sign per street frontage advertising undeveloped commercial and industrial property for sale or rent. The sign shall not exceed thirty-two square feet in sign area and seven feet in height;

4.    Developed commercial and industrial property “for sale or rent” signs: one sign per street frontage advertising a commercial or industrial building for rent or sale is permitted. If a face of the building is less than fifteen feet from the property line, the sign shall be placed on the building or in a window. If freestanding, the sign shall be located more than fifteen feet from any abutting property line and a public right-of-way line. The sign shall not exceed seven feet in height. Said sign shall not exceed thirty-two square feet in sign area;

5.    Undeveloped residential property “for sale” signs: one sign per street frontage advertising undeveloped residential property for sale is permitted not exceeding sixteen square feet in sign area. Said sign must be placed more than ten feet from the abutting owner’s property line and may not exceed a height of five feet.

D.    Political Signs. No sign permit is required. Political signs or posters may be placed only upon private property with owner’s consent. Signs in the residential zones, which includes neighborhood residential (NR), and professional office/residential mix (PR-A) zones, shall not exceed ten square feet in sign area. Signs placed in the commercial and industrial zones, which includes the downtown (DT), general commercial (GC), commercial residential valley (CR-V), commercial residential Goose Lake (CR-G), low-intensity mixed use (MU), low-intensity commercial (LI-C), medical educational (ME), commercial industrial (CI) and the industrial (I) zones shall not exceed thirty-two square feet in sign area. The signs shall not exceed six feet in height. Signs shall not be posted or attached to trees, telephone poles, power poles or other public utility facilities. It is unlawful to place, erect or maintain any political sign so as to pose a visibility hazard to pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic along streets, sidewalks, or street corners. Political signs shall be removed within seven days after the election in which the candidate or issue advertised on a sign has been determined. For a successful candidate in a primary election, the sign may remain until the final election, but shall be removed within seven days after the election. The candidate or committee for which the sign is displayed shall be responsible for its removal and subject to the penalties as provided in this chapter.

E.    Semi-Annual Event Signs. A temporary sign permit is required and evidence of such permit shall be affixed to the sign in a manner determined by the city. Semi-annual event signs may be located off-premises on private property or public rights-of-way. On public property or rights-of-way, semi-annual event signs shall be no taller than forty-two inches, no larger than four square feet on a one-sided sign, and no larger than eight square feet on a multi-sided sign. Sign supports may not be installed in the ground, except that in areas with no formal landscaping or underground sprinkler systems a maximum two-inch by two-inch stake may be driven no more than six inches into the ground. Larger signs may be permitted on public property or in the right-of-way subject to public works department approval under a right-of-way use permit, pursuant to the criteria and conditions set forth in city council Resolution No. 797-0103. In no case may semi-annual event signs be located on any street pavement or sidewalk, and they shall not be attached to any tree, utility pole, or other public structure or fixture (e.g., light pole, street sign, street bench, trash container, mail box, etc.). No semi-annual event sign shall be placed in or within fifty feet of a public park, unless such sign refers to an event located in a public park. No more than four signs are allowed per event and they shall be displayed no more than one week before the event and twenty-four hours after the event.

F.    New Business Signs. Temporary sign permit is required. Signs for new businesses that are intended to advertise and promote a business beyond fifteen days and are not part of a grand opening display as described in subsection B of this section may be permitted for a period of up to ninety days, provided:

1.    The sign is located on the premises of the new business;

2.    The sign is not placed within and does not project into the public right-of-way;

3.    The sign area allowed for permanent signs at the business location is not exceeded by more than twenty-five percent;

4.    Exceptions: Sandwich board signs regulated under Section 20.38.170(B)(7) may be included as a new business temporary sign and allowed off-premises and within the public right-of-way. All provisions regulating sandwich board signs, excepting the permit fee under Section 20.38.170(B)(7)(c), shall apply.

5.    New business temporary signs shall meet all other design, construction standards, and district regulations contained within this chapter, except as described in this subsection F. (Ord. 1921-0518 (part), 2018; Ord. 1833-0713 § 1, 2013; Ord. 1661-1105 § 4, 2005: Ord. 1576-1002 § 1, 2002: Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.110 Construction standards.

All signs must meet the standards provided in the Uniform Building Code and National Electrical Code as adopted by the city. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.120 Illumination.

Illumination from or upon any sign shall be shaded, shielded, directed or reduced so as to, in the judgment of the city, avoid undue brightness, glare or reflection of light on private or public property in the surrounding area, and so as to avoid unreasonably distracting pedestrians or motorists. “Undue brightness” is illumination in excess of that which is reasonably necessary to make the sign reasonably visible to the average person on an adjacent street. Illumination, if used, shall be what is known as white or yellow and shall not be blinking, fluctuating or moving. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.130 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 or to make other arrangements for repair or removal satisfactory to the city. The premises surrounding a freestanding sign shall be free and clear of rubbish and landscaping area maintained in a tidy manner. Failure to satisfy the requirements of this section will cause the city to begin procedures to remove the offending sign under Section 20.38.240 of these interim regulations. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.140 Landscaping for freestanding and ground signs.

All freestanding and ground signs shall include, as part of their design, landscaping about their base so as to improve the overall appearance of the installation. This landscaping must include vegetation and may include other materials and components such as brick or concrete bases, planter boxes, or decorative framing. Grass or other low lying vegetation may satisfy this requirement for ground signs within a reasonable clear vision area surrounding the sign as approved by the city. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.150 Inspection.

All sign users shall permit the periodic inspection of their signs by the city upon request. Such inspections shall be for the purpose of examining its structural and electrical connections and to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Such inspections shall be carried out during business hours, unless an emergency exists. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.160 More restrictive provision to apply.

Whenever two provisions of this chapter overlap or conflict with regard to the size or placement of a sign, the more restrictive provision shall apply. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.170 District regulations.

A.    General. This section shall apply to all zones designated in the zoning ordinance.

1.    Sight Distance. In addition to the setback requirements in this chapter, signs shall be located such that there is at every street intersection a clear view between heights of three feet and ten feet in a triangle formed by the corner and points on the curb thirty feet from the intersection or entryway;

2.    Home Occupations. Home occupation signs relate to home occupation as defined in the zoning ordinance. The sign shall be flush-mounted and shall not exceed two square feet in area, nor shall any one side exceed two linear feet. Such signs shall not be illuminated. The sign shall state only the name of the occupant and/or the type of occupation;

3.    Single-Family Subdivisions Entrance Signs. One sign identifying a subdivision may be permitted per entrance from an access street; provided, said signs do not exceed eighteen square feet in sign area each and five feet in height. Such signs can be low profile monument freestanding or fence mounted, and can be placed anywhere on the property along access streets. Such sign may also be placed within a landscaped median in the entrance roadway, so long as the median has been approved by the city, and the sign is set back a minimum of ten feet from the end of the median which intersects with the access street;

4.    Multifamily Complex Entrance Signs. Each multifamily complex is permitted one sign per entrance from an access street identifying the complex; provided, such sign does not exceed eighteen square feet in sign area each and five feet in height. Such signs can be low profile monument freestanding or fence mounted, and can be placed anywhere on the property along access streets, or within a landscaped median in the entrance roadway, so long as the median has been approved by the city, and the sign is set back a minimum of ten feet from the end of the median which intersects with the access street;

5.    Buildings Facing on Two Parallel Streets. Single or multiple occupancy buildings whose premises extend through a block to face on two parallel streets and housing customer entrances on each street are permitted ground signs per street frontage as per Section 20.38.170(B)(1); provided, however, that each sign is located on different street frontages and are separated more than one hundred feet measured in a straight line between the signs;

B.    Commercial and Industrial Districts. The following signs are allowed in the MU, CR-V, CR-G, DT, ME, GC, CI, and I zoning districts subject to the provisions of this chapter:

1.    Ground Signs. Ground signs, where practical, are the preferred signage type in commercial and industrial areas and shall be permitted subject to Table 20.38.170, and the following criteria:

a.    Area Calculation. Each site shall be allowed one ground sign, along each street frontage, of area equal to or less than three-tenths square foot of area per lineal frontage foot of parcel frontage on the right-of-way to which the sign is oriented not to exceed eighty square feet and the maximum height related to area as per Table 20.38.170 below,

b.    Ground signs within thirty lineal feet of street intersections or driveways shall not exceed forty-two inches in height,

c.    If any one right-of-way frontage is more than three hundred lineal feet, a second ground sign is permitted on that frontage if placed more than one hundred fifty feet from the first ground sign. Total area of all ground signs along the frontage shall not exceed in area three-tenths square foot per lineal feet of frontage and no individual sign shall exceed eighty square feet in area,

d.    Corner Parcels.

i.    For corner parcels with two arterial street frontages and entrances on both streets which are also a part of a multibuilding complex, a sign placed at the corner of the property can be a two- or three-faced sign; or

ii.    For a corner parcel with two arterial street frontages and entrances on both streets and which is also a multibuilding complex, ground signs are permitted at each entrance.

Table 20.38.170
Maximum Allowed Area and Height
of Ground Signs

 

 

Maximum Sign Area

Maximum Sign Height

up to 40 sq. ft.

72 inch

up to 60 sq. ft.

84 inch

up to 80 sq. ft.
(maximum allowed sign area)

96 inch

2.    Freestanding Signs. Freestanding signs are permitted only where it can be demonstrated that ground signs are not effective due to topography, landscaping and/or natural vegetation, building locations/setbacks, adjacent land uses, or other physical restraints not created by acts of the property owner. Freestanding sign design, including height, shall be subject to design approval by the city.

Area calculation for freestanding signs: allowed area for freestanding signs shall be three-tenths square feet on each face per lineal foot of street frontage to which the sign is oriented. Maximum height shall be eighteen feet.

It shall be incumbent upon the owner/operator of such facility to establish the need for such sign based upon the above criteria.

Freestanding signs may not be placed in a required side yard or within ten feet of a street right-of-way;

3.    Wall Signs. Wall signs are allowed in commercial and industrial districts.

Area calculation for wall signs: the allowed surface area of a wall sign shall be one and one-quarter square foot per lineal foot of building or tenant space frontage along the street, access road, or common parking area, to which the sign is to be oriented up to the first one hundred such feet. Frontage feet in excess of one hundred lineal feet shall result in additional allowed wall sign area on a ratio of one square foot of sign area per lineal foot. Allowable sign area is not transferable from one facade to another;

4.    Projecting Signs. A sign which projects twelve inches or more from, and is supported by a wall of a building or structure shall not project over six feet from the face of the building, or more than seventy-five percent of the distance between the property line and the curb line, whichever measurement is less. Such signs shall not exceed twenty square feet per sign face and shall have a minimum clearance of eight feet above any public sidewalk or walkway. In no cases will projecting signs and wall signage be allowed on the same building or tenant space facade.

Any sign that projects over the public right-of-way shall require a right-of-way permit. An application and payment of the applicable permit fee shall be submitted to the city prior to any installation of such sign;

5.    Freeway-Oriented Signs. For the purposes of this chapter, “freeway” is defined as Highway #101. Parcels with significant freeway frontage are permitted freeway-oriented signs under the following criteria:

a.    All signage oriented to the freeway shall be wall signage except as otherwise allowed below;

b.    Area calculation for freeway-oriented signs: allowed area of freeway-oriented wall signage shall be one and one-half square feet per lineal feet of building frontage;

c.    Buildings more than one hundred feet from property line common with freeway right-of-way may substitute one freestanding sign for wall signage under the following criteria:

i.    The freestanding sign shall not be located closer than fifty feet from the property line common with freeway right-of-way;

ii.    Allowed area of the freestanding sign shall not exceed two square feet per lineal frontage feet of the building with a maximum of one hundred fifty square feet;

iii.    Maximum height for freeway-oriented signs shall be twenty-four feet;

d.    Under no circumstances will both wall and freestanding signage be allowed on the freeway-oriented side of such parcels;

6.    Signage on Awnings and Marquees. Signage is allowed on awnings and marquees in commercial and industrial zones of the city. Such signage shall be limited to thirty percent coverage of the face of the marquee or the exposed surface of the awning. The signage area shall be calculated on the basis of the smallest rectangle, circle or spherical figure that will enclose the entire copy area of the sign. Any such calculations shall include the areas between letters and lines as well as the areas of any devices which are intended to attract attention. In no cases will awning or marquee signage and wall signage be allowed on the same building facade except that signs hanging under the awning or marquee of less than three square feet shall be allowed;

7.    Sidewalk and Sandwich Board Signs. One sandwich board sign per business shall be allowed. The sandwich board sign must be placed at the nearest public right-of-way at the point nearest the subject property. Only those commercial uses within the CR-V, CR-G, LI-C, DT, and GC zones are permitted sidewalk or sandwich board signs. Sandwich board signs shall be subject to the following:

a.    Signs shall be located next to the curb edge of a sidewalk in such a manner so as not to interfere with the opening of car doors, bus stops, loading zones, or pedestrian traffic;

b.    Signs shall be displayed during business hours only;

c.    An annual permit shall be obtained from the city upon application for permit and payment of the applicable permit fee. The permit may be renewed yearly upon application to the city;

d.    An owner of a sidewalk, sandwich board/A-frame sign shall assume liability for any damage resulting from the use of said sign. Evidence of insurance for property damage and personal liability in the amount required by the city shall be provided with the sign permit application. The permit shall be considered invalid if the insurance is cancelled for any reason;

e.    No such sign shall be located so as to create a traffic safety hazard by interfering with the vision of drivers entering or leaving the premises;

f.    Sandwich board signs shall be displayed on the sidewalk or right-of-way edge directly in front of the advertising business only and within ten feet of the building entrance for the business. Sidewalk, sandwich board/A-frame signs shall not be displayed on corners;

g.    Sandwich board signs shall be limited to a maximum area of eight square feet each side and a maximum height of forty-two inches;

h.    Sandwich board signs shall be permanently painted, of reasonable aesthetic quality, and contain no moving parts or changeable copy. Sidewalk, sandwich board/A-frame signs shall not be illuminated;

i.    After thirty days’ written notice of violation of this section, the city may remove illegal sandwich board signs;

8.    Shopping Center Sign. A shopping center (more than ten acres in size and more than one hundred thousand square feet in gross floor area of buildings) is permitted one identification type sign per street frontage. Such signage shall be subject to the following:

a.    Such shopping center signs shall be ground signs unless it can be demonstrated that ground signs are not effective due to topography, landscaping and/or natural vegetation, building locations/setbacks, adjacent land uses, or other physical restraints not created by acts of the property owner. Shopping center ground signs may be up to two hundred square feet in area, twenty feet in height, and within ten feet of the right-of-way line,

b.    If allowed, freestanding shopping center signs shall not exceed two hundred square feet in area, thirty feet in height, and must be located at least twenty feet from all property lines and rights-of-way,

c.    The sign area bonus provided under a common signage plan does not apply to shopping center signs;

C.    Neighborhood Residential District. Nonresidential uses in the NR zone, including churches, schools, and uses in the neighborhood commercial nodes but not including home occupations, are allowed signage subject to the following provisions:

1.    General. Signs shall be constructed of a natural material such as wood or stone, and shall not be internally illuminated.

2.    Ground Signs. Ground signs shall be permitted as in subsection B of this section, with the following exceptions:

a.    Area Calculation. Each site shall be allowed one ground sign of area equal to or less than one-tenth of one square foot of area per lineal frontage foot of parcel frontage of the right-of-way to which the sign is oriented not to exceed twenty-four square feet and a maximum height of five feet.

3.    Freestanding Signs. Freestanding signs are prohibited in the NR zone.

4.    Wall Signs. Area calculation for wall signs shall be one-half square foot per lineal foot of building or tenant space frontage along the street, access road, or common parking area, to which the sign is to be oriented.

5.    Projecting Signs. Projecting signs are permitted as in subsection (B)(4) of this section.

6.    Signage on Awnings and Marquees. Signage on awnings and marquees is permitted as in subsection (B)(6) of this section.

7.    Sidewalk and Sandwich Board signs. Sidewalk and sandwich board signs are permitted as in subsection (B)(7) of this section;

D.    Historic Structures, Properties or Districts. All signage on structures and their sites, or on other properties, which are listed on any national, state or local historic register or list, or within any district or area identified by the city, state or federal governments, as a historic preservation district or any similarly labeled district or area, shall be subject to design review and approval by the historic preservation board of the city. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1468-0397 § § 1—5, 1997; Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.180 Exception and appeal.

A.    The city manager or designee may grant an exception to the requirements of this chapter subject to the applicant’s demonstration that the criteria listed in Section 20.50.010(A)(1—4) are met. The exception granted shall be the minimum necessary as determined by the city manager or designee.

B.    The determination of the city manager or designee shall be final unless appealed to the hearings examiner within ten working days of written notice of the determination. (Ord. 1921-0518 (part), 2018; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.190 Nonconforming signs.

A.    Compliance—Amortization Period. Any legal nonconforming sign shall be discontinued (removed) or brought into compliance with this chapter within seven years of the date of passage of the ordinance codified in this section. Any legal nonconforming portable sign or sandwich-board (A-frame) sign shall be discontinued or be brought into compliance no later than sixty calendar days from the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section. Any sign not in compliance by this deadline shall be subject to penalties per Section 20.38.230.

B.    Notice of Noncompliance. The city will provide written notice of the expiration of the amortization period, as noted above, to the person responsible for said sign(s) at their last known address and provide notice to the owner of the property on which the sign is located. The city will utilize the Mason County tax assessor’s office to find the latest, updated address for the property owner. Said notice will be provided by mail.

C.    Request for Consideration/Extension. The city has established the time periods stated in the above subsection with the understanding that these time periods provide a reasonable time period to recover the life expectancy of most signs. However, the city recognizes that there may be special, unusual circumstances that may fall outside of those parameters.

1.    Any person aggrieved by the imposition of the amortization clause may request a review of such application of the clause. The request for review shall be filed with the city not later than six months prior to the expiration of the amortization period. The review shall be heard by the hearing examiner.

2.    The aggrieved applicant has the burden of establishing the unreasonableness of the amortization period and must provide evidence showing the particular period is unreasonable.

3.    The hearing examiner shall consider such things as lease obligations, life expectancy of the nonconformance, depreciation and the actual amount invested in the nonconforming sign. The hearing examiner shall not consider the replacement costs or fair market value in determining the value to the applicant. The hearing examiner shall also consider the benefit to the public that is derived from the termination of the nonconformance.

4.    The hearing examiner shall consider the preservation and improvement of the city’s physical environment, natural amenities and desirable characteristics of the city, as set forth in the city’s land use regulations.

D.    Loss of Nonconforming Status. A nonconforming sign shall immediately lose its nonconforming designation if:

1.    The sign is relocated or structurally altered in any way.

2.    The business changes ownership or activity, including the sale of a majority of stock in a corporation containing a legal nonconforming sign;

3.    The sign is replaced; or

4.    Any new sign is erected or placed in connection with the enterprise using the nonconforming sign.

5.    When a business or activity containing a legal nonconforming sign is enlarged or remodeled to a value of fifty percent or more of assessed value of real property improvements, then such sign must be brought into conformity with this chapter.

E.    Violation of the Chapter. Any violation of this chapter shall terminate immediately the right to maintain a nonconforming sign. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.200 Termination of signs.

A.    By Abandonment. No persons shall maintain or permit to be maintained on any premises owned or controlled by him any sign which has been abandoned for more than six months.

B.    By Destruction, Damage, Obsolescence or Danger. The right to maintain any sign shall terminate and shall cease to exist whenever the sign is:

1.    Damaged or destroyed beyond fifty percent. The determination whether a sign is damaged or destroyed beyond fifty percent shall rest with the city and shall be based upon the actual cost of replacing said sign; and/or

2.    Structurally substandard under any applicable ordinance of the city to the extent that the sign becomes a hazard or a danger. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.210 Administration.

The regulation of the ordinance codified in this chapter shall be under the supervision of the city manager; provided, however, that the city manager may delegate the duty of enforcing the provisions of this chapter to other designees or appointees. The city manager, designee or appointee may make such administrative determinations for the proper administration and enforcement of this chapter; provided, that said determinations are not contrary to the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 1921-0518 (part), 2018; Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.220 Conflict and severability.

If any provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with any other provision of any zoning, building, fire, safety or health ordinance or code of the city, the provision which establishes the more restrictive standard shall prevail. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.230 Violation—Penalty.

A.    Any person who wilfully violates, disobeys, omits, neglects or refuses to comply with or resists the enforcement of this chapter or its provisions shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not in excess of one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in jail for not to exceed ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each day that a violation exists shall constitute a separate offense.

B.    The erecter, owner or user of an unlawful sign or the owner of the property on which an unlawful sign is located and who maintains such violation may each be found guilty of a separate offense and suffer the penalties herein provided. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)

20.38.240 Removal of unlawful signs.

A.    Any unlawful permanent type sign which has not been removed within thirty days after conviction of violation or imposition of civil penalty may be removed by the city and the costs charged to the violator. If removal costs have not been paid and the sign reclaimed within thirty days of its removal by the city, the city may sell or otherwise dispose of the sign and apply the proceeds toward costs of removal. Cost of disposal and removal shall be sent to a collections company.

B.    Signs which the city finds upon public streets, sidewalks, right-of-way or other public property or which present an immediate and serious danger to the public because of their unsafe condition may be immediately removed by the city without prior notice.

C.    Any unlawful temporary or portable type sign located on private property, which has not been removed after twenty-four hours of notification, may be removed by the city. The sign may be reclaimed by the owner after a civil penalty of one hundred dollars has been paid to the city. If the sign has not been reclaimed within thirty days of its removal by the city, the city may sell or otherwise dispose of the sign and apply the proceeds toward costs of the removal. Any proceeds in excess of costs of the removal shall be paid to the owner of the sign.

D.    Signs found not to be maintained in a state of security, safety, appearance, and repair as per subsection A of this section.

Neither the city nor any of its agents shall be liable for any damage to the sign when removed under this section. (Ord. 1570-0702 § 1 (part), 2002: Ord. 1418-295 § 1 (part), 1995)