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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

Email: bds@portlandoregon.gov

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sign?

32.22.020.YY.  Sign.  Materials placed or constructed, or light projected, that (1) conveys a message or image and (2) is used to inform or attract the attention of the public.  Some examples of ‘signs’ are materials or lights meeting the definition of the preceding sentence and which are commonly referred to as signs, placards, A-boards, posters, billboards, murals, diagrams, banners, flags, or projected slides, images or holograms.  The scope of the term ‘sign’ does not depend on the content of the message or image conveyed.

This does include text on awnings, exterior vinyl, placards, or painted imagery.


What is the primary building wall?

32.22.020.NN.  Primary building walls.  Any exterior building wall that faces a street and contains a public entrance to the occupant's premises or tenant space.  If an individual tenant space does not have a street facing wall or does not have a street facing wall containing a public entrance, then the primary building wall for that individual tenant space is any wall containing a public entrance that faces a parking area on the site.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Primary and Secondary Building Walls
building wall plot plan


How long is the review time?

The turnaround goal is 7-10 business days.


Why does a sign inventory need to be provided?

Allowable signage is based upon a ratio of either 1 sq. ft. per 1 ft. of primary building wall or 1.5 sq. ft. per 1 ft. of primary building wall depending on if there is a freestanding sign on the same street frontage. If the existing signage at site is over the allowable a Land Use Review will be required for the additional signage.

Scenario 1: Proposal is for a 50 sq. ft. blade sign on East Elevation Way. There is a freestanding sign located on that street frontage and the primary building wall is 40 feet.

Primary building wall          = 40’ linear feet
Allowable signage               = 40 sq. ft.
Proposal                               = 50 sq. ft.

In this case that is 10 sq. ft. over the allowable (40 minus 50 equals negative 10). The sign will need to be reduced or a Land Use decision is required.

Scenario 2:  Proposal is for a 32 sq. ft. fascia sign on an existing tenant space. There is no freestanding sign at site and the primary building wall 40 feet. There is an existing 32 sq ft. blade sign.

Primary building wall            = 40’ linear feet
Allowable signage                = 60 sq. ft.
Existing signage                  = 32 sq. ft.
Proposal                              = 32 sq. ft.
Total                                     = 64 sq. ft.

In this case that is 4 sq. ft. over the allowable signage (60 minus 64 equals negative 4).

Scenario 3:  Proposal is for 50 sq. ft. of text on a fabric awning. There is a freestanding sign at site and the primary building wall 100 feet. There is an existing 32 sq. ft. blade sign.

Primary building wall          = 100’ linear feet
Allowable signage               = 100 sq. ft.
Existing signage                  = 32 sq. ft.
Proposal                               = 50 sq. ft.
Total                                     = 82 sq. ft.

Remainder                           = 18 sq. ft.

In this case there is enough primary building wall for the additional signage.


Can the remainder of the tenant space signage be used for the Landlord?

That is on a case by case basis as it is dependent on the location of the primary building and secondary building walls at the site. Most times the answer is no based upon site conditions, but it is up to the applicant to provide the information for City staff to review. Please refer to 32.32.030.E.