Sign Code

See also: Sign, Awning, & Billboard PermitsShoreline Master Program Code

What Is It?

Our Sign Code, part of our Land Use Code, regulates most permanent signs, awnings, billboards, kiosks, community bulletin boards, and temporary signs. We regulate signs based on the zoning of the property where the sign is located. Sign regulations are different in various zones, so a sign used in one zone may not be allowed in a different zone.

Our Sign Code:

  • Defines on-premise and off-premise signs
  • Describes the type, size, and of quantity signs that are allowed in each zone
  • Describes what types signs are not allowed
  • Explains where signs can be placed
  • Gives specific sign rules for each zone
  • Describes where signs are restricted or limited, such as along scenic routes, in special review districts, and historic landmarks
  • Gives specific rules for signs on private property, for signs that project over or into the public rights-of-way, and for signs near intersections or driveways

Some parts of Seattle, such as shoreline, historic preservation, or special review districts, have additional sign requirements as described in the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC).

Marijuana and alcohol businesses must also comply with Liquor and Cannabis Board sign regulations specific to each industry. Marijuana business are further regulated by the Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Read the Code

Proposed Changes

Seattle Center Sign Code Overlay District proposal (June 2019)

The proposal would create a new sign code overlay in the Land Use Code specifically for the Seattle Center, including the arena. The current sign code does not address the arena's and center's signage needs. 

The proposal would allow a mix of signs for wayfinding for pedestrians, event announcements, arena naming, event and building sponsorship, and other purposes.

The proposal would accomplish the following:

  • Allow a variety of sign types - including pole-banner signs, video display signs, sponsorship signs, vegetative wall sign, glass-wall sign, changing image, and changing color signs
  • Define the number of signs allowed - by a specified number of signs, or according to the length of the property's frontage on a public right-of-way
  • Define maximum size limits - vary by sign types
  • Define maximum sign height limits - specify how high signs may be placed, including new roof signs and sign located in the arena plazas
  • Allow temporary signs - the proposal accommodates temporary signs in a variety of different forms, including signs using projected light on building surfaces
  • Set standards for the size and duration of video displays - video could be used in signs on the arena grounds, with individual messages that extend up to 10 seconds duration
  • Set limits on light brightness for illuminated signs   

This sign code proposal, linked below, is now at the City Council for decision-making. It will be discussed by the Select Committee on Civic Arenas. Visit the Select Committee on Civic Arenas website to see upcoming meeting agendas when they are posted.  

Arena EIS Addendum is Available   

This environmental document is in addition to the EIS prepared recently and discusses environmental impacts relating to changes in the sign code proposal since publication of the Final EIS for the Arena Renovation in August 2018. You may read the addendum and other documents relating to this proposal at the links below: