Pole Banners

What we do

Pole banners provide a sense of place and increase the visibility of your organization and events. They can be a great marketing tool to advertise civic or historical organizations, cultural assets, and local business districts. Specifically, we:

  • Provide pole banner design and location/placement review
  • Provide guidance through the permitting process to approve event and neighborhood-identification pole banners

Program Goals

sample bannersample banner

The Pole Banner Program seeks to:

  • Support community efforts to enhance the identity of their neighborhoods and business districts
  • Promote local events of public interest
  • Create more dynamic and attractive public places

Application Process and Materials

Please make sure you've completed the following steps to apply for pole banners:

Fill out an annual permit application.

Provide a copy of your certificate of liability insurance (Refer to Client Assistance Memo 2102 for further explanation.)

Create a diagram or map of the specific poles to be used for banner installation. Include the vertical pole numbers located on the street-side of the pole, and the streets where the poles are located. Provide a photo or other way to identify the pole if no pole number is available. Pole Banner Installation Diagram.

Create a proof of the banner design, complete with size and colors. Sample Design Proof

If you're installing brackets, submit specifications for your installation system.

If your proposed banner is in an Historic or Landmark District, you must get a certificate of approval for those areas.

There are two types of pole banners:

Event Banners (short-term)

  • Promote arts and cultural activities, such as events, festivals, and tourism programs, as well as major sporting events
  • Announces a specific date or time period
  • Installed 30 days prior to event and taken down 5 days afterward
  • Priority for Seattle-based events over those taking place outside the city

Identification Banners (long-term)

  • Identify a geographic location or place of interest
  • Permitted for one year at a time and may be renewed annually
  • Installed on poles adjacent to property or area being identified

Banners may be hung in commercial or industrial zones, or next to major institutions or City-owned open spaces.

  • Commercially zoned areas have a retail, service, or shopping district focus. These areas include Seattle Mixed, Neighborhood Commercial, Commercial, Downtown Office Core, Downtown Harborfront, Downtown Mixed, International District, Pike Market Mixed, and Pioneer Square Mixed zones 
  • Industrially zoned areas support general manufacturing and commercial uses, and include Industrial Buffer, Industrial Commercial, Industrial General 1 and 2 zones 
  • The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (Seattle DCI) zoning map will help you to identify if the area in which you'd like to install banners has the proper zoning 

Banners may not be used to advertise specific products or services. They may be used to identify a location or advertise an upcoming event. 

Banners must be securely attached to pre-approved poles using approved bracket designs, and must be maintained for cleanliness and safety. 

Banner designs and applications must be submitted to SDOT's Street Use Division at least two weeks before they are installed. Spring and summer are busy seasons for banner requests, so get your application in as early as possible!

Dimensions and Installation Specifications

When attaching your banner to the sidewalk side of the pole, make sure it is 8 feet above the sidewalk and 18 inches back from the face of the curb.

When attaching your banner to the curb side of a pole, please follow the directions in the diagrams below, as well as the following guideline:

  • Mount your banner at least two feet above an existing sign. Banners should not interfere with the visibility of traffic signals or signs, or with identified historic or artistic installations.

Please download our Pole Banner Permitting Guidelines information sheet for more details.

When the edge of the banner is more than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of the banner is 8 feet over the sidewalk.
When the edge of the banner is more than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of the banner is 8 feet over the sidewalk.

When the edge of the banner is less than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of the banner is 14 feet over a parking lane or 16.5 feet over a travel lane. The banner may hang over the street.
When the edge of the banner is less than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of the banner is 14 feet over a parking lane or 16.5 feet over a travel lane. The banner may hang over the street.

Design Guidelines

Use the following guidelines to ensure that your banner is attention-grabbing:

Use simple and bold graphics

Keep your text short. Include the event or location names, or short ‘grabs' (e.g., "Seattle International Film Festival," or "Summer Festival at Hing Hay Park") and the date

Bright colors that contrast each another provide the best visual impact.

In most cases, one-inch-sized font works best for the main message. If installing for pedestrian viewing only, you can decrease the font size.

Try installing more banners closely spaced together at similar heights. This will help to create a strong visual impact.

Sponsorship Rules

You may display your relationships with commercial entities on your banners. Please make sure that sponsorship and corporate logo recognition(s) within a banner design take up no more than 20% of the overall banner area.

The font of the sponsorship may not be larger than the font of the event name.

The poles you choose for your banners must fit certain guidelines and zoning requirements. Please create a map of the poles you would like to use. We will work with you to identify which poles are eligible for use.

A Note About Wood Poles

Wood poles are eligible for use if they support street lights only, with only one wire attached to pole. The brackets installed on these poles must be permanent and may not be taken down at the end of the banner installation.

For mounting on wood streetlight poles, you must use lag bolts. The lag bolts must be the same diameter or 1/16 - inch less than the bolt hole diameter. The bolts should be stainless steel and 4 inches in length. Once installed on wood streetlight poles, the mounting hardware must be left in place. The use of clamps or banding on wood poles is not permitted.

Example of an eligible wood pole with one streetlight wire.
Example of an eligible wood pole with one streetlight wire.

Example of a wood pole that would not be approved due to multiple attachments
Example of a wood pole that would not be approved due to multiple attachments.

Eligible Pole Criteria

To be eligible for banner placement, your poles must not have:

  • Traffic-control signals;
  • Pedestrian-crossing signals; or
  • Art-installation attachments.

Metro poles or poles with Metro attachments must have prior approval from Metro before receiving your SDOT permit. Please contact Alex Wolak at 206-684-1361 to receive your Metro approval.

Additionally, your banner(s) must not adversely affect visibility of any downstream traffic signals or signs. Any preexisting artwork installed by the City at banner height makes the pole ineligible for banners.

Please visit our Street Use Permit Fee Schedule or visit our Permit Services counter to learn more.

Identification Banner Permits

You’ll pay an initial base permit fee, followed by annual renewal fees as applicable.

Event Banner Permits

Each permit covers a 4-contiguous-block area. You will pay a base permit fee, as well as a final inspection fee to verify that the banners were taken down.

There are two resources available from the City for specific types of organizations seeking to fund a banner project: 

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) Neighborhood Matching Fund may be able to assist your neighborhood organization, community council, community arts organization, or neighborhood business organization. DON staff can provide feedback if your project meet their granting criteria. 

If you are part of a nonprofit business organization like Business Improvement Areas, you may seek funds from the Office of Economic Development, specifically their Neighborhood Business District Funding Awards.