GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-4000
Organization of Title 32
General layout. The sign code is organized as a reference document. It is not intended to be read from cover to cover. Instead, it is organized so you may look up only the parts you need. The list of chapters in the table of contents is, therefore, very important, as are the section listings at the beginning of each chapter. A later portion of this introduction explains how to use the code for commonly asked questions. There are many other ways to use this code, depending on your objectives.
Land Use vs. Structural and Permitting Regulations
This code contains both land use and structural regulations relating to signs. In general, land use processes cannot be applied to structural regulations and structural processes cannot be applied to land use regulations:
"Land use" regulations
implement the livability and design-related goals of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan. Adoption or amendment of land use regulations must follow a special legislative specified by state law. In addition, discretionary decisions made under these regulations must go through special quasi-judicial review processes. Chapters 32.30 through 32.38 of this code contain land use regulations. Chapters 32.10 through 32.24 contain additional information, including definitions, that is needed to apply the land use regulations. In most cases land use reviews are found in Title 33, Planning and Zoning.
Structural regulations provide standards to safeguard life, health, property and public welfare. Adoption, amendment, and interpretation of structural regulations must go through a process that is different than that required of land use regulations. Chapters 32.40 through 32.54 contain structural regulations. In most cases, structural review processes are found in Title 24, Building Regulations and Title 26, Electrical Regulations.
Permitting and enforcement regulations describe the administrative procedures that will be used to review sign proposals against the objective land use and structural standards of the code. Chapters 32.60 through 32.68 contain information about sign permitting and enforcement.
References to other Codes
This code is to be used in conjunction with other City Titles, especially Title 33, Planning and Zoning; Title 24, Building Regulations; and Title 26, Electrical Regulations. The Sign Code contains references to regulations, definitions, and review processes in these and other titles that also apply to signs.
10s - Introduction.
Chapters 32.10 and 32.12 contain information about the purpose of this code, what is regulated by this code, what is prohibited under the code, what is exempt from regulation, and who has the authority to administer the code.
20s – Measurements and Terms.
Chapters 32.20, 32.22, and 32.24 describe methods of measurement for signs and lists definitions and terminology needed to understand the regulatory portion of the code.
30s - Land Use Regulations.
Chapters 32.30 through 32.38 contain land use regulations affecting the size, placement, location, and materials of signs by zone, land use, and special district.
40s - Structural Regulations.
Chapters 32.40 through 32.44 contain structural and safety-related standards for all signs.
50s - Special Regulations.
Chapters 32.50 through 32.54 contain regulations for development features that are not signs, but that are related to the sign regulations. These include awnings and strobe lights.
60s - Administration.
Chapters 32.60 through 32.68 contain permitting and enforcement procedures, including application requirements and fees.
Determining the Sign Regulations for a Specific Site
Answering the questions below will help you figure out what regulations apply to your sign.
Is the sign regulated by Title 32? Is the sign prohibited?
What land use standards will apply to the sign?
Look at the Official Zoning Maps to determine the zone, overlay zone, and any plan districts that cover the site where the sign will be installed. Look at the street classification maps of the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan to determine whether the site is within a pedestrian district, and to determine the classifications of streets adjacent to the site.
Determine the use of the site. If the use has not already been determined as part of a land use review, refer to the descriptions of use categories in Chapter 33.920 of the Zoning Code. In the Open Space and Residential zones, as well as in certain plan districts, sign standards are tied to the land use of the site. In addition, some uses must meet special sign standards regardless of the location of the site.
Look at Chapter 32.32 to determine whether the sign is allowed in the zone and what standards will apply based on the type of sign and the base zone of the site.
Check Chapter 32.34 to determine whether there are any special standards that will apply to the sign based on the use or development of the site, or because the site is covered by an overlay zone or plan district.
What construction standards must be meet?
Will I need to go through any special reviews before I can receive a permit for my sign?
Chapters 32.30 through 32.38 indicate whether design review or historic design review will be required. In addition, you may request an adjustment to one or more of the land use standards.
Chapters 32.40 through 32.44 indicate whether special structural or electrical review will be required. In addition, you may apply for an alternative methods review in order to install a sign that will differ from one or more of the construction standards.
Format of Title 32
The format of Title 32 follows the layout of all revised Titles in the City Code. The chapter and section numbers use an expandable decimal numbering system adopted by the City in 1969. Major divisions within the Title are called chapters. Major divisions within chapters are called sections. The format of the divisions in the Title are shown below.
NAME OF CHAPTER
Within Title 32, references are made as follows:
Outside of the same section.
When a reference is to text outside of the same section, the reference number starts with the Title number (i.e. 32), and continues to the appropriate level for the reference. For example, 32.30.010 A. refers to Subsection A. of Section 010, of Chapter 30, of Title 32. The names "Title" and "Chapter" are used if the reference is to an entire Title or Chapter.
Within the same section.
When a reference is to text within the same section, the name of the division level is used (i.e. Subsection, Paragraph, Subparagraph, etc.), and the reference "number" starts with the appropriate subsection letter. For example, "See Paragraph D.2., below" refers to Paragraph 2., of Subsection D., of the same section.
The code has been written in a "plain English" style and the meaning is intended to be clear as read. However, because it is also a legal document and because of the need for terms with specific meanings, the code also provides guidance on how specific terms are used. Chapters 32.20, Applying the Code Language and 32.22, Definitions, define words and phrases that have a specific meaning in this code.