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Wall Sign Legislation
April 15 Substitute Bill (PDF)


Wall Signs


What's the Problem?

  • The City limits the number of off-premises signs (billboards), because they contribute to driver distraction and visual blight.
  • Currently, there are no size/area limits for on-premises signs in commercial, Seattle Mixed, industrial and downtown zones.


Why It Matters

  • Over the last few years, the City has seen an increase in the number of very large on-premises wall signs located in these areas, some of which far exceed the size of billboards.
  • These signs are not for the sole use of the business establishment on the site as is required by law, and the products, goods or services advertised on the signs are not necessarily available on the premises where the signs are located.
  • Usually, the larger the sign, the greater the revenue generated. Some sign brokers make between $30,000 and $40,000 a month for one large wall sign.



The legislation will allow business establishments to attract customers and reduce the incentive for sign brokers to install wall signs for what is really off-premise advertising by:

  • Providing a 672-square foot area limit
  • Making clear that selling a gift card or accessing a product via computer do not constitute an on-premises product or service for purposes of meeting the “on-premises sign” definition.
  • Increasing Penalty Amount for Violations



Below are examples of several large signs which attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians, but also contribute to a proliferation of additional signs, visual clutter and blight. While the size of the example signs varies, they are all much larger than the average-sized 83 square foot wall sign located in the City. They are also larger than traditional billboards (288 square feet) and large-sized billboards (672 square feet).


Wall Sign

Example One: This sign is located at 1931 Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. Note the size of the wallscape (“Montana”) in comparison to the billboard located in the lower left corner of the photo. The sign face area is 2,752 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Two: This sign is located at 418 Eighth Avenue South and the area of the sign face is 1,350 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Three: This sign is located at 2600 First Avenue and the area of the sign face is 850 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Four: This sign is located at 1528 First Avenue and the sign face area is 1,520 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Five: This sign is located at 1601 Third Avenue and the sign face area is 6,240 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Six: This sign is located at 1920 First Avenue and the sign face is 1,650 square feet.


Wall Sign

Example Seven. This sign is located at 701 Westlake Avenue North and the sign face is 779 square feet in size.


Wall Sign

Example Eight. This sign is located at 103 Pike Street. The sign face is 900 square feet.



  • On-premise signs are intended for the sole use of a business establishment to advertise the business it transacts, principal services it renders, or goods it sells or produces on the site where the sign is located. These signs allow potential customers to locate and patronize a particular business on that property.
  • A billboard (off-premises sign, also known as an advertising sign) advertises a business activity, use, product or service not available on the premises where the sign is erected. The maximum total area of many billboards in commercial, industrial and downtown zones is 672 square feet.

Next Steps

The Full Council is expected to vote on the Wall Signs legislation on Monday, April 28 at 2 p.m.

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