The intent of these regulations is to protect the character of an area by reducing the negative impacts from nonconforming signs. At the same time, the regulations assure that the signs may continue and that the sign regulations will not cause unnecessary burdens. The intent of these regulations is not to force all signs to be immediately brought into conformance with current regulations; instead, the intent is to gradually bring existing signs into conformance.
(Amended by Ordinance No. 176469, effective July 1, 2002.)
A. Nonconforming permanent signs may continue to exist if they comply with the regulations of this chapter. Nonconforming signs that do not meet the regulations of this chapter have no legal right to continue and must be removed.
B. Signs established during a moratorium.
1. Generally. Signs established in violation of a moratorium must be brought into compliance with the standards of this Title, except as provided in Paragraph B.2, below.
2. Exception. Painted Wall Signs established during a moratorium, where permits were applied for before the effective date of the moratorium, are considered legal, nonconforming signs, and may remain. The effective date of the moratorium on Painted Wall Signs in the Central City plan district was December 16, 1997. The effective date of the moratorium on Painted Wall Signs outside the Central City plan district was August 12, 1998.
C. Sign maintenance, sign repair, and changing of permanent sign faces is allowed so long as structural alterations are not made and the sign is not increased in size.
D. Permanent signs and sign structures that are moved, replaced, or structurally altered must be brought into conformance with the sign regulations. However, nonconforming signs required to be moved because of public right of way improvements may be re-established. See paragraph 32.32.030 C.4, Removal of signs.
E. Nonconforming temporary signs must be removed.
F. Ownership. The status of a nonconforming sign is not affected by changes in ownership.
G. Change to a conforming sign. A nonconforming sign may be altered to become or be replaced with a conforming sign by right. Once a sign is altered to conform or is replaced with a conforming sign, the nonconforming rights for that sign are lost and a nonconforming sign may not be re-established. Unless prohibited, proposed changes that are not in conformance are subject to the adjustment process.
H. Loss of nonconforming sign status.
1. Discontinuance. If a there is no sign in place on a sign structure or building wall for 6 continuous months, the nonconforming rights are lost and a nonconforming sign may not be re-established. If the sign structure is unused for less than 6 continuous months, a nonconforming sign may be re-established.
2. Destruction. When a sign or sign structure is removed or intentionally destroyed, replacement signs and sign structures must comply with the current standards. However:
a. Repair and maintenance. A nonconforming sign or sign structure may be removed temporarily to perform sign maintenance or sign repair. In order to preserve the nonconforming sign status, the person removing the sign must inform the Director, in writing, before the sign is removed. If the responsible party fails to inform the Director, any re-erected sign will be considered a new sign.
b. Unintentional destruction. When a sign or sign structure that has nonconforming elements is partially or totally damaged by fire or other causes beyond the control of the owner, the sign and sign structure may be rebuilt to the same size and height using the same materials. An adjustment is required to allow the replacement sign to be more out of compliance with the standards than the previous sign.
To document legal nonconforming status, the applicant must provide evidence to show that the sign was established prior to November 18, 1998 or allowed when established, and that the sign has been maintained over time. If the applicant provides standard evidence from the lists below, the Director will determine if the evidence is satisfactory. If the applicant provides evidence other than the standard evidence listed below, a Determination of Nonconforming Sign Status Review is required, as specified in Section 32.38.040.
A. Sign established before November 18, 1998. If the sign was established before November 18, 1998, the applicant must provide evidence to show that the sign was established before November 18, 1998. Standard evidence that the sign was established before November 18, 1998 is:
1. A building, zoning, sign or development permit;
2. A photograph of the sign at its current location from the Official Sign Photo Inventory; or
3. A date-stamped photograph of the sign at its current location.
B. Sign legally established after November 18, 1998. If the sign was established after November 18, 1998, the applicant must provide evidence to show that the sign was allowed when established. Standard evidence that the sign was allowed when established is:
1. Building, zoning, sign, awning or development permits; or
2. Zoning codes or maps.
C. Sign maintained over time. The applicant must provide evidence to show that the sign has been maintained over time. Standard evidence that the sign has been maintained over time is:
1. Utility bills;
2. Sign-specific property or income tax records;
3. Business licenses;
4. Listings in telephone, business, or Polk directories;
5. Advertisements in dated publications;
6. Building, sign, land use, or development permits; or
7. Records of sign lease agreements.