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Street Use Home
Permits
Pole Banner Overview
Guidelines
- Determine Banner Type
- Banner Requirements
- Sponsorship Rules
- Maximizing Design Impact
- Banner Dimensions
Production & Installation
Identifying Eligible Poles
- Pre-approved poles
- All Other Eligible Poles
- Wood Poles
- Banner Height and Installation Specifications
Application Procedure
- Permit Application
- Insurance Requirements
- Example of Completed Pole Map
Resources for Funding Your Project
Pricing
Image Gallery
Additional Resources
- SDOT Pole Banner Permitting Guidelines
Cross Street Banners
Pole Decorations
Contact Us

Seattle Pole Banner Program

Overview

Do you want to increase the visibility of your organization and events? Consider using street pole banners as a marketing tool to advertise your public event. For civic or historical organizations, using banners can be a great way to promote cultural assets, local business districts, history and a sense of place.

Street Use Permits are required to place banners on City Utility poles. This site provides you with the resources youll need to choose locations for your banners and to obtain the permits youll need from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Street Use Division.

Guidelines

Determining Your Banner Type

There are two types of pole banners: Event Banners (permit 52 A) and Identification Banners (permit 52 B). Determine which type of banner best suits your needs.

  1. Event Banners:
    • Event Banner Example
    • Promote arts and cultural activities including events, festivals, tourism or civic programs, as well as major sporting and events of public interest.
    • Celebrate an event and announce a specific date or time period.
    • May be installed 30 days prior to event and must be taken down 5 days afterward.
    Event Banners for Seattle-based events have priority installation over Event Banners for events taking place outside city limits.
  2. Identification Banner ExampleIdentification Banners:
    • Identify a geographic location or place of interest.
    • Permitted for one year at a time and may be renewed annually..
    • Must be installed on poles adjacent to property or area being identified.

For examples of other styles of Event and Identification banners, check out the Image Gallery.

Banner Requirements

All banners must:

  • Be installed in either a Commercial or Industrial zones, or be adjacent to an eligible major institution or city owned open space. Commercially zoned areas have a retail, service, or shopping district focus and 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. Our map of the city will help you to identify if the area in which youd like to install banners has the proper zoning. Click here to see the DPD zoning map.
  • Identify a location or advertise an event.
  • Visually enhance the City’s streetscape.

Banners may not be used as an advertising medium for specific products and services.

Banner designs must be submitted to SDOT Street Use Division at least 2 weeks prior to the proposed installation date.

DimesionsBanner Dimensions

The standard banner size is 30 inches horizontal by 60 inches vertical. Applicants that would like to install banners outside of these dimensions must request an exception to the rules, from the SDOT Street Use Division, when submitting the permit application.

More detailed information about how the size of your banner installation is affected by the poles characteristics can be found at Banner Height and Installation Specifications.

Sponsorship Rules

Organizations or events may have relationships with commercial entities that they display on banners. Sponsorship and corporate logo recognition(s) within a banner design must be no greater than 20% of the overall banner area.

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

Maximizing Impact of Design

Sample BannerEffective banner designs:

  • Feature simple and bold graphics
  • Limit use of text to event or location names or short ‘grabs’ (ie. Seattle International Film Festival, or ‘Summer Festival at Hing Hay Park’) and the date.
  • Bright colors which have significant contrast to one another provide the best visual impact.
  • Use a minimum of one inch sized font for main message in most applications. If installed for pedestrian viewing only, font size can decrease.
  • The number of banners installed will affect the visual impact. More banners spaced more closely together, at similar heights will help to create a strong visual impact.

See the Image Gallery for other examples of acceptable designs.


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Production and Installation

The production and installation of banners is the responsibility of the organization seeking to install the banner. There are companies available for hire who can help you through the permitting process as well as produce and install your banners. If you decide to do it yourself, you must have the proper insurance and permits to conduct the installation.

Traditionally our applicants have found that the production cost for banners varies according to the:

  • Banner materials chosen (e.g. weight of fabric, type of fabric)
  • Complexity of the design;
  • Number of colors used; and
  • Quantity of banners produced.
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Identifying Eligible Poles

Poles in the Central Business District (CBD) have been pre-approved for banner installation. Poles in other areas need to fit certain guidelines and zoning requirements to be eligible. See completed pole map example.

eligible pole markerPre-approved Poles

The utility poles in the CBD, from Denny Street south to the Safeco Field Baseball Stadium and from Interstate 5 to the Puget Sound, have been reviewed for eligibility of banner installation. Poles eligible for installation are marked with PBA (Pole Banner Approved) decals. These decals, 3 inch round and fushia in color, are located on the street side of the pole, just under the street pole number (about 5 feet up from the ground). See example of a PBA pole in the photo to the right.

Poles in the CBD without the PBA sticker are not pre-approved and may not be used. An applicant may request the review of the poles eligibility if it does not have a PBA sticker and the pole conforms to the pole banner guidelines. Utility poles outside of the CBD are not marked with stickers, but may be allowed for use if they meet specific criteria.

All Other Poles

Utility poles outside of the CBD are not marked with the pre-approved PBA decals. Due to this fact, applicants must take the first step in assessing a pole’s eligibility and in creating a map of the poles they would like to use. City staff will then work with you to identify which poles are eligible for use.

Criteria for eligibility:

All poles should have:
No traffic control light signals
No pedestrian crossing signals
No art installation attachments

No Metro poles or poles with Metro attachments without prior approval from Metro. Metro poles support electrical wires which power Metro’s electric buses.

Applicant must obtain approval from Metro prior to obtaining the SDOT pole banner permit. Metro can be contacted at: Alex Wolak 206-684-1361

Your banner shall not adversely affect visibility of any downstream traffic signals or signs. Any preexisting artwork installed by the City at banner height will make the pole ineligible for banners.

Eligible pole
Example of an eligible metal pole.
Pole not eligible
Example of a pole that would not be approved due to traffic and pedestrian signal.

Wood Poles

Wood poles are eligible for use if they support street lights only (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, lag bolts must be used. The lag bolts must be the same diameter or 1/16 - inch less than the bolt hole diameter and shall be stainless steel and be a minimum of 4 inches in length. Once installed on wood streetlight poles, the mounting hardware shall be left in place. The use of clamps or banding on wood poles is not permitted.

Eligible pole
Example of an eligible wood pole with one streetlight wire.
Pole not eligible
Example of a wood pole that would not be approved due to multiple attachments.

Banner Height and Installation Specifications

Pole height must accommodate banner installation parameters:
Banners that are attached on the sidewalk side of the pole shall be a minimum of 8 above the sidewalk and must be 18 back from curbface.

Banners that are attached on the curb side of a pole shall be a minimum of:

  • 8 above the sidewalk surface, and shall be a minimum of 18 clear from the face of the curb.
  • No lower than 14 over parking lane or when closer than 18" clear from the face of the curb;
  • No lower than 16.5 if portions of the banner hang over travel lane.

Banners shall maintain a minimum of 3 vertical clearance below any luminaries from where the ballasts connect to the poles.

Banners shall not be mounted less than 2 above an existing sign. Banners shall not interfere with the visibility of traffic signals or signs or identified historic or artistic installations.

Banner greater than 18 in. from curb
When banner’s edge is greater than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of banner is 8 feet over the sidewalk.
Banner less than 18 in. from curb
When banners edge is less than 18 inches from the curb, the minimum clearance for the bottom of banner is 14 feet over a parking lane or 16.5 feet over a travel lane. The banner may hang over the street.
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Application Procedures

Your completed application packet needs to include the following items:

  1. A completed permit application
  2. A copy of your certificate of liability insurance (Refer to Client Assistance Memo 2102 for further explanation.)
  3. A diagram or map of the specific poles to be used for banner installation, including the vertical pole numbers (the pole numbers are located on the street-side of the pole) and the streets on which the poles are located. Click here to see a sample map.
  4. A proof of the banner design, including the actual colors to be used and the banner size. Click here to see a sample banner proof.
  5. If new brackets are to be installed, submit specifications for your bracket installation system.
  6. If applicable, you have a Certificate of Approval from the affected Historic Districts (Ballard, Columbia City, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and the International District).

Application requests may not be submitted more than 90 days prior to the proposed installation date. Complete applications may take 10 business days to review.

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Resources for Funding Your Project

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

Neighborhood organizations (e.g. community councils, community arts organizations, neighborhood business organizations), may seek funds from the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) Neighborhood Matching Fund. DON staff can provide feedback on if your project will meet their granting criteria.

Nonprofit business organizations like Business Improvement Areas may seek funds from the Office of Economic Development Neighborhood Business District Funding Awards by contacting OED at 684-8090.Top of Page

Pricing

Street Use permit fees are based on the current Street Use Permit Fee Schedule

Identification Banner Permits
Cost $146.00 in the first year, per permit, and the permit renews annually by invoice at $140.00 /permit.

Event Banner Permits
Cost $146.00 per permit. An additional $86.00 final inspection fee is charged to inspect that the banners were taken down.  The total per event banner permit cost is $232.00.

Each permit represents a 4 contiguous block increment with the poles on each side of the street included on the same permit.Top of Page

Image Gallery

Banner Application Examples

Completed Event Banner Application Example
Completed Identification Banner Application Example

Completed Pole Map Example

Banner Design Proof

Application example
Photo courtesy of SuperGraphics

Identification Banner Examples

Identification banner Identification banner
Photo courtesy of Rainier Industries Photo courtesy of SouthEast Effective Development

Event Banner Examples

Event banner Event banner
Photo courtesy of Rainier Industries
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Cross-Street Banners

Banners that span across a street are prohibited due to safety considerations.

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Pole Decorations

A permit may be obtained to install seasonal decorations or hanging planters to poles. Requirements are similar to those set for pole banner installations. SDOT will require additional information regarding the attachment detail, electrical hook-ups and/or weight specifications of the decoration. Please contact Annual Permits at the information provided below.

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Contact Us

Administration of banner permitting is handled by Seattle Department of Transportation Street Use Division.

Questions about the permitting process can be directed to the Annual Permit Section by telephone at 206-684-5267, or via email at AnnualPermits@seattle.gov.

Applications may be submitted via mail, email, or hand delivery:

Address: SDOT, Attn: Annual Permits
PO Box 34996
Seattle WA 98124-4996
Email: AnnualPermits@seattle.gov

Permit counter location: Seattle Municipal Tower, Suite 2300, 700 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104 (The permit counter is open 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday-Friday.)

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