17.75 Definitions

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

"Building façade." Any exterior elevation of a building.

"Building frontage." The width of a building occupied by a single business tenant that fronts on a public way where customer access to the building is available. Width is measured as the widest point on an architectural elevation.

"Changeable copy." Sign copy designed to be used with removable graphics or letters which will allow changing of copy.

"Corporate sign standards." Standards for logo or sign design approved by a corporation.

"Dilapidated." In a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect.

"Director." The director of the community development department of the city, including his or her designee.

"Illegal sign." A sign that includes any of the following:


A sign installed without complying with all regulations in effect at the time of its construction or use;


A sign installed or maintained contrary to any applicable provision of this chapter.


A sign which is a danger to the public or is structurally unsafe; or


A sign which is a traffic hazard not created by relocation of streets or highways or by acts of the city.

"Illuminated." Signs or individual letters in which an artificial source of light is used to make the message readable and includes both internally and externally lit signs.

"Externally illuminated." A sign whose light source is external to the sign and which casts its light onto the sign from a distance; or where the light source is behind an opaque sign element and causes it to be outlined by light reflected from the surface to which the sign is mounted.

"Internally illuminated." A sign whose light source that is concealed or contained within the sign and becomes visible in darkness through a translucent surface. Message center signs, digital displays, and signs incorporating neon lighting are not considered internally illuminated signs for the purposes of this chapter.

"Internally illuminated sign." A sign with a light source located in the interior of the sign so the light shines through the face of the sign, or with a light source which is attached to the face of the sign and is perceived as a design element of the sign.

"Intersection visibility triangle." See Section 17.48.070 (Intersection Visibility).

"Mural." An original work of visual art which is composed, created or produced firsthand, and that is painted directly upon, tiled, or affixed directly to an exterior wall of a structure with the permission of the property owner. A mural is distinguishable from graffiti based on the property owner's permission to paint or affix the mural onto the property, and compliance with the permit provisions of this chapter.

"Nonconforming sign." Any permanent or temporary sign, including its physical structure and supporting elements, which was lawfully erected and maintained in compliance with all applicable laws in effect at the time of original installation, but which does not now comply with the provisions of this chapter.

"Obscene speech." A message or graphic representation that is obscene, as that term is defined in Section 311 of the California Penal Code.

"Off-premises sign." A sign identifying a business activity, property, services, or product at some location other than where the sign is displayed, including human signs and hand-held commercial signs.

"On-premises sign." A sign identifying a business activity, property, services, or product provided at the location where the sign is located. Any sign displaying noncommercial copy shall be considered an on-premises sign.

"Neon lighting." Any sign illuminated by or utilizing in any way tubes filled with neon and/or related inert gases, or products that produce the same or similar effect as neon, such as flexible light-emitting diode (LED) neon-like tubing.

"Permanent sign." A sign constructed of durable materials and intended to exist for the duration of time that the use or occupant is located on the premises.

"Placed." Erected, constructed, posted, painted, printed, tacked, glued, carved, or otherwise fastened, affixed or made visible in any manner.

"Public area." An area that is accessible or visible to any member of the public.

"Public right-of-way." A public street, plaza, courtyard, pedestrian corridor or walkway, city-owned parking lot, or alley.

"Review authority." The individual or official city body identified by this chapter as having the responsibility and authority to review, and approve or deny, a permit application.

"Sign." Any physical form of visual communication, including its structure and component parts, which is exposed to exterior view to attract attention to or provide information about the subject matter or premises, through use of any combination of words, letters, figures, or symbols. (See below for sign types.)

"Sign area." The surface space containing words, letters, figures or symbols, together with any frame or material forming an integral part of the display but excluding support structures, the face of the building, and incidental parts not drawing attention to the subject matter. Where freestanding or projecting signs have two sides or faces, but only one face is visible from any point, the surface area of only one side shall be applied to the total sign area permitted.

"Sign copy." All portions of a sign displaying a message, including text and symbols, not including the supporting structure or base of a sign.

"Sign height." The vertical distance from the uppermost point used in measuring the area of a sign to the normal grade immediately below the sign, including its base or the top of the nearest curb of the street on which the sign fronts, whichever measurement is the greatest.

"Sign program." A coordinated design plan of one or more signs for an individual business, a multi-tenant business center, or other site that specifies the number, size, description, and location of all signs located or to be located on the parcel or business site.

"Sign width." The measurement of a sign or base of a sign at its full extent from side to side, measured at the widest point.

"Sign types."

"Abandoned sign." Any lawfully erected sign that, for a period of 90 days or more, no longer advertises or identifies an ongoing business, activity, product, service, or other use available on the premise where the sign is located.

"A-frame sign." A freestanding portable sign ordinarily in the shape of an "A" or some variation thereof, which is readily moveable and not permanently attached to the ground or any structure; also, a sandwich board sign.

"Airborne sign." A sign that is tethered by free-floating, such as a balloon sign, inflatable sign, and/or kite.

"Air dancer." A tall, inflatable model, usually of a person or animal, that appears to move around due to the flow of air through it; also known as tube man, fly guy, sky dancer, or wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man.

"Animated" or "moving sign." A sign that uses movement, lighting, or special materials to depict action or create a special effect to imitate movement.

"Architectural sign." A sign placed on a retaining, fence/perimeter, or decorative wall, usually raceway mounted or with individual letters affixed to the structure. Architectural signs are not affixed to buildings.

"Awning" or "canopy sign." Any sign that is painted or applied to the face, valance, or side panel of a projecting structure consisting of a frame and a material covering, attached to and wholly supported by a building wall and installed over and partially in front of doors, windows, or other openings in a building.

"Balloon" or "balloon sign." Any inflated or inflatable object, with or without copy.

"Banner." A temporary sign composed of cloth, canvas, plastic, fabric, or similar lightweight, non-rigid material that can be mounted to a structure with cord, rope, cable, or a similar method.

"Barber pole." A rotating or stationary cylindrical pole of the traditional red, white, and blue spiral striped design, identifying the premises as a barber shop.

"Billboard." An off-premises sign designed for changeable advertising copy, which is normally used for the advertisement of goods, products, or services.

"Bus bench sign." A temporary message located on the backrest of a city bus bench.

"Business information sign." Signs which provide business information including, but not limiting to, credit card acceptance, business hours, open/closed, or menus.

"Changeable copy sign." A sign designed to allow the changing of copy through manual, mechanical, or electrical means including time and temperature.

"Community information bulletin board." A board or similar posting area installed and maintained by the city for the posting of community information.

"Construction sign." See definition of subdivision sign, below.

"Directory sign." A pedestrian oriented sign used to provide a directory of tenant locations within a multi-tenant building(s).

"Double-sided sign:" A sign constructed to display its message on the outer surfaces of two parallel planes.

"Electronic readerboard." A sign that contains a video screen, rows of light bulbs or LEDs or other type of electronic display, which when activated forms messages, symbols, or graphics.

"Feather sign." A temporary sign constructed of cloth, canvas, plastic fabric, or similar lightweight, non-rigid material and supported by a single vertical pole mounted into the ground or on a portable structure.

"Flag." A fabric sheet of square, rectangular, or triangular shape that is mounted on a pole, freestanding or attached to a structure or building. This sign type includes official flags of national, state, or local governments. This sign type does not include feather signs.

"Flashing sign." A sign that contains an intermittent or sequential flashing light source.

"Freestanding sign." A sign fixed in an upright position on the ground not attached to a structure other than a framework or device erected primarily to support the sign. Includes monument signs and ground mounted directory signs. Does not include pole signs.

"H-frame sign." A freestanding portable sign ordinarily in the shape of a sideways "H" or some variation thereof, which is readily moveable and not permanently attached to the ground or any structure.

"Human sign." Any sign or costume held or worn by an individual for the purpose of advertising a business, goods, or services.

"Inflatable sign." A sign that is an air-inflated object, which may be of various shapes, made of flexible fabric, resting on the ground or a structure and equipped with a portable blower motor that provides a constant flow of air into the device.

"Mobile billboard advertising display." As defined in Section 395.5 of the Vehicle Code, including any amendments or successor statutes thereto. Mobile billboards do not include: (1) Advertising signs that are permanently affixed to the body of, an integral part of, or a fixture of a motor vehicle for permanent decoration, identification, or display and that do not extend beyond the overall length, width, or height of the vehicle. (2) If the license plate frame is installed in compliance with Vehicle Code Section 5201, paper advertisements issued by a dealer contained within that license plate frame or any advertisements on that license plate frame. "Permanently affixed" means any of the following: (i) Painted directly on the body of a motor vehicle; (ii) Applied as a decal on the body of a motor vehicle; (iii) Placed in a location on the body of a motor vehicle that was specifically designed by a vehicle manufacturer as defined in Vehicle Code Section 672 and licensed pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 11701, in compliance with both state and federal law or guidelines, for the express purpose of containing an advertising sign.

"Monument sign." An independent, freestanding sign supported on the ground having a solid base.

"Parking lot sign." A sign placed or displayed in parking lots to supply information to people using such lots, including information with respect to liability as well as entry, exit, and directional information, handicapped parking requirements, and other information to facilitate the safe movement of vehicles served by the parking area.

"Pennant." A triangular or irregular piece of fabric or other material, whether or not containing a message of any kind, commonly attached by strings or strands, or supported on small poles, intended to flap in the wind.

"People sign." A person, live or simulated, who is attired or decorated with insignia, images, costumes, masks, or other symbols that display commercial messages with the purpose of drawing attention to or advertising for an on-premises activity. Such person may or may not be holding a sign. Also known as human mascots, sign spinner, or walking signs.

"Permanent vehicle sign." A sign that is painted directly upon the body of a motor vehicle, applied as a decal on the body of a motor vehicle, or placed in a location on the body of a motor vehicle that was specifically designed by a vehicle manufacturer for the express purpose of containing an advertising sign, such that they are an integral part of, or fixture of a motor vehicle for permanent decoration, identification, or display and that do not extend beyond the overall length, width, or height of the vehicle.

"Pole sign." An elevated freestanding sign, typically supported by one or two poles or columns.

"Portable sign." A sign that rests on the ground and is not designed to be permanently attached to a building or permanently anchored to the ground, including, but not limited to, A-frame and H-frame signs. Portable signs do not include pole or wooden post signs (see yard sign).

"Projecting sign." A sign projecting from and supported by a wall or building with the display surface of the sign perpendicular to the wall or building.

"Public property." Public property means and includes the public right-of-way, and any property that is owned or controlled by the city or by any other government agency or district, or private and public utilities. Public property includes city hall and the civic center, parks, utility poles, lines, and infrastructure, street trees, traffic control devices, and privately or publicly owned signs.

"Roof sign." A sign constructed upon or over a roof or placed so that any portion of the sign extends above the edge of the roof.

"Subdivision" or "construction sign." A temporary sign placed at a construction site that provides information regarding the project architect, owner, contractors, etc.

"Suspended sign." A sign that is suspended from the underside of an eave, canopy, awning, arcade, or other covered walkway.

"Wall sign." A sign attached to or painted on the exterior wall of a building with the display surface of the sign approximately parallel to the building. Wall signs include directories mounted to the walls of a building.

"Window sign." A temporary or permanent sign placed on or behind a window facing a public way. Window signs do not include common wall windows on the inside of a building not visible by the general public from any public right-of-way or any public area.

"Yard sign." Any temporary sign placed in the ground or attached to a supporting structure, posts, or poles, that is not attached to any building, not including banners.

"Subdivision housing development." A housing development entitled pursuant to the California Subdivision Map Act.

"Street frontage." The portion of the building or property which faces or abuts a street(s).

"Support structure." The structural portion of a sign securing the sign to the ground, a building, or to another structure.

"Temporary sign." A sign constructed of paper, cloth, or similar expendable material, which is intended for a definite and limited period of display, and which is not permanently affixed to a structure, sign area, or window.

"Window area." The area within the perimeter window frames and glass doors located on a business frontage or street frontage.

(Ord. No. 652, § 2, 11-16-21)