Most signs require a permit. Though certain types of signs, like window signs, do not require a building permit, all signs, regardless of type, must receive approval from the Development Planning Division. The Zoning Ordinance, Specific Plans (e.g. Urban Core Specific Plan), and various Sectional Planning Area (SPA) Plans regulate the size, type and placement of signs. Before installing new or replacing existing signage, check with the Planning Division of the Development Services Department for the regulations for your zone and sign type.
Types of Sign Permits
- Individual Signs : Sign applications for individual businesses are subject to review by the Zoning Administrator. Such individual signs must be designed to relate to the building upon which it is to be erected in terms of overall design, theme, colors, materials used, and the design elements. Signs must also conform to the criteria set forth by the applicable zone (CVMC 19.60) for the property and any relevant design guidelines provided in the City’s Design Manual or other applicable design guidelines. Individual signs may be subject to additional requirements if they are part of a Planned Sign Program (see below).
- Planned Sign Programs : Signs for businesses located within commercial or industrial centers, complexes, or buildings designed for multiple occupancy, may be coordinated so that a signage program with a consistent design theme is established and maintained for the business center. Planned Sign programs may also be voluntarily proposed for specific developments, to modify the rules as provided in (CVMC 19.60) relative to sign size, height, illumination, spacing, orientation or other non communicative aspects of signs, as well as special sign districts or special sign overlay zone. Planned Sign Programs are also typically required by SPA Plans for Planned Communities. If your property is within a SPA Plan, be sure to check the applicable SPA Plan for additional information. Planned sign programs must be approved by the Planning Commission or the City Council. All individual businesses within the center must provide signs that are consistent with the approved coordinated sign program.
- Temporary Promotional Signs : Temporary promotional signs are permitted for any business to promote: grand openings, change of business address, change of ownership or lessee, and business anniversaries, or other similar events as determined by the Zoning. Administrator. A Temporary Sales/Signage/Special Events Application is required for Temporary Signs.
Please refer to (CVMC 19.60) for requirements for the particular zone of the subject property. Further requirements may apply if subject property is located within an approved Specific Plan or SPA Plan. Please verify requirements that apply to your particular site with planning staff.
Prior to installation, signs must be submitted for approval by the Development Services Department. Four (4) sets of the plans are required with the Sign Permit Application and should include a site plan, show sign location(s) and architectural drawings and structural drawings. One set must be in color.
- A drawing to scale showing the design of the sign, including dimensions, sign size, colors (applies to commercial message signs only), materials, method of attachment, source of illumination and showing the relationship to any building or structure to which it is proposed to be installed or affixed or to which it relates.
- A site plan, including all dimensions, drawn to scale indicating the location of the sign relative to the property line, rights-of-way, streets, sidewalks, vehicular access points and existing buildings or structures and off-street parking areas located on the premises.
- The number, size, type and location of all existing signs on the same building, site or premises.
- Any structural information and plans necessary to ensure compliance with the latest adopted building standards.
- Other information as the Development Services Department may reasonably request to determine that the proposed application is in full compliance with the provisions of (CVMC 19.60), the City code, SPA plans and any other applicable law. The message proposed to be displayed on the sign is not required.
- Proof of the consent of the property owner or other person in control or possession of the property. For example, if the subject property is leased and the applicant is the lessee, the lessee must demonstrate that the sign complies with all provisions of the lease related to signage, or submit a written landlord’s consent.
- Landscape and irrigation plans shall be submitted with all freestanding pole and monument signs where applicable.
Sign Permit Review, Approval and Appeals
Most sign permits can be reviewed and approved over the counter. (CVMC 19.60.810) outlines the Application Review/Approval and Appeal Process for sign permits. In general, the Zoning Administrator shall determine whether approval shall be granted for any sign based on its conformance with the regulations and design standards set forth in the zoning ordinance and in the city design manual, without consideration of the graphic design of the copy or message displayed on the sign.
Where an application is denied by the zoning administrator, the applicant is informed in writing of the changes necessary in order to approve the application. If the applicant chooses to amend the application to reflect requested changes, the Zoning Administrator shall grant the permit within 30 days of when a complete and conforming application is submitted.
Building Division Review
If placement of a sign requires a Building Permit, the Building Division will review the plans for compliance with California Building Code requirements. As part of the Building Permit review, review by the Engineering Division is also required. Types of signs that do not typically require a Building Permit include window signs, painted wall signs and murals, temporary signs and banners. All signs, regardless of type, must receive approval from the Planning Division.
Sign permit fees will be determined by the Front Counter Development Services Technician (DST). The Fee Schedule lists the base fee per each sign permit applied for. If the sign(s) require a building permit, plan check fees will be applied (see Plan Check & Permit Fees below).
Plan Check & Permit Fees - Building permit fees for signs are based upon valuation. Refer to the "Building Permit Fees for Signs" calculation worksheet to determine building fees. Review by Engineering, if required, is included in the building permit fee.