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A. Location Restrictions.

1. Off-premise structures shall be located only in A-1 or A-2 districts and shall be located only on arterial streets as designated on the Street Classification Map or located within 300 feet of the right-of-way and oriented to the following permitted freeways:

a. Interstate 17;

b. Interstate 10;

c. SR (LOOP) 202, "Red Mountain Freeway";

d. SR (LOOP) 202, "Ed Pastor Freeway," western section, Interstate 10 to the 2,000-foot distance from the boundary of the South Mountain Preserve;

e. SR 143;

f. The Western SR (LOOP) 101 to Camelback Road;

g. Off-premise signs are a prohibited use on all other existing and future freeways within the City limits and shall not be reoriented to obtain freeway visibility.

2. Off-premise advertising structures may also be located in a planned unit development (PUD) when oriented and within 300 feet of a freeway as identified in Section 705.2(A)(1). Off-premise advertising structures located in a PUD must comply with all standards in this section and the gross area of the PUD must have a minimum of 20 acres. An off-premise advertising structure may be located within a PUD with a gross area of less than 20 acres if all the following conditions are met:

a. The off-premise advertising structure is located on publicly owned land that is used for a school for K-12 education; and

b. Located within a PUD that has a minimum gross area of 15 acres; and

c. All other requirements for off-premise advertising structures in the PUD are met.

3. No off-premise structure shall be erected within the following locations:

a. In or within 2,000 feet of the boundaries of the Phoenix or South Mountain preserves.

b. In any historic preservation district.

c. Within any scenic corridor zoning overlay or drive adopted by the City of Phoenix.

d. Any arterial street where the sign face is oriented to a freeway not specified in Section 705.2.A.1.

4. Any off-premise structure erected within the following locations shall require a use permit:

a. Within 500 feet of the boundary of any historic preservation district.

b. In or within 250 feet of a special planning district or neighborhood conservation district.

c. In addition to the provisions of Section 307, findings of approval shall include:

(1) Compatibility with existing, special planning district plans, neighborhood conservation district plans or historic preservation district plans;

(2) Relation to public open areas and parks;

(3) Relation to significant public views or vistas;

(4) Impact to adjacent residential uses.

5. Except as follows below, no part of any off-premise advertising structure may be located closer than 500 feet from a residential district and residential use. A vacant residentially zoned lot shall be treated as a residential use.

a. For residential uses within a planned unit development (PUD) boundary, no setback from an off-premise advertising structure is required within the PUD boundary.

b. For an off-premise advertising structure that is located on publicly owned land that is used for a school for K-12 education within the boundary of a PUD, no part of any off-premise advertising structure may be located closer than 250 feet from a residential district and residential use outside of the PUD boundary.

c. This setback may be reduced subject to obtaining a use permit pursuant to Section 307 and a demonstration that there are visual or physical barriers that mitigate the impacts of the proposed off-premise advertising structure to the residential use.

B. Setbacks/Spacing/Height/Area.

1. With the exception of freeway signs which require no setback, all off-premise structures shall maintain a setback of a minimum of 25 feet from all property lines adjacent to public right(s)-of-way.

2. Spacing standards for off-premise structures shall be 1,000 feet from one structure to another. Measurement shall be from the vertical edge of the sign face closest to the sign face of the structure to which is being measured.

3. The maximum square footage of permitted off-premise signs is as shown in the table below:

Sign Face (Square Feet)


Total Maximum Area (Square Feet)


378 sq. ft.


450 sq. ft.


672 sq. ft.


785 sq. ft.

4. Heights for off-premise structures shall be as follows:

a. Maximum heights for off-premise structures shall be 48 feet in height.

b. Freeway signs may be increased up to 70 feet in height subject to meeting the standards of Section 307 for use permits in addition to the following:

(1) The additional height is necessary because of an elevated freeway, overpass, building or other physical obstruction that impedes sign face visibility;

(2) The additional height is the minimum height necessary to ensure sign face visibility.

C. Special Requirements for Off-Premise Signs.

1. Sign permits for off-premise structures shall conform to the general requirements for sign permits as established by Section 705.B except as provided herein and in Section 705.2.G.

a. If the application is for an off-premise sign and if the applicant is not the property owner, written authorization from the property owner to erect the proposed sign or a sworn statement that the applicant has written authorization from the property owner to erect the proposed sign, or a copy of an easement which is recorded with the County Recorder showing that the sign owner owns the easement under the sign, shall be attached to the application. Where there exist conflicting claims concerning authorization from the property owner, no permit shall be issued until the conflict is resolved by the applicants. When conflicting claims arise after the issuance of a permit but before work is commenced, the permit shall be suspended until the conflict is resolved by the parties.

2. There shall be no more than a total of two support columns for any off-premise sign.

3. Access ladders to maintenance platforms shall be constructed or maintained in such a position as not to project beyond a visual envelope established by structural elements or projections of the sign face and trim to the ground as viewed from a plane parallel to the face of the sign.

4. Other than support columns, maintenance walkways, embellishments, ends, cross bracing, and tops or bottoms of parallel or V-shaped signs, no back braces, torque arms, stringers, panel attachments or similar structural elements or accessories shall be exposed. If not covered by a sign face, screening of such elements shall be colored similarly to the remaining portions of the signs.

5. A third face may be used to screen a V-shape sign so long as it conforms to the remaining provisions of this ordinance and so long as that face is oriented to an arterial street when used for advertising. The area of said face shall not be counted toward the maximum allowed area so long as each end is not farther than five feet from its adjacent face.

6. For the purpose of rotation of sign faces, an off-premise structure may be left exposed for a period of not more than 60 days.

7. Embellishments may extend not more than five and one-half feet above or below the horizontal edges and three feet beyond any vertical edge of the sign structure face area.

8. Off-premise signs shall not be erected upon the roof of any building, nor shall any sign be partially or totally supported by the roof or roof structure of any building.

9. No part of any sign structure, except the sign copy, shall be painted in an enamel or gloss paint, or a color with a reflectivity of more than 20 percent, or with a metallic color. In addition, hues of red, orange, yellow, or purple shall not be used.

10. Copy can be changed and non-structural maintenance can be done on a legal sign, bulletin board, off-premise sign, display encasement, or marquee. This also allows for copy changes utilizing interchangeable letters on signs designed for that purpose. Walls painted with sign copy shall require written notice of the proposed repainting be received by the Planning and Development Department at least three days prior to repainting the wall sign when more than 50 percent of the copy will be removed. Change on any sign when an increase in square footage occurs shall require a permit. The nonconforming status of a sign shall not be affected by the repainting.

11. When an off-premise sign is located within a PUD, a redevelopment area, a village primary core, and adjacent to a permitted freeway, the following standards shall apply:

a. The sign shall not exceed 48 feet in height and no single face shall exceed 672 square feet with 20 percent embellishments.

b. A use permit is required for off-premise signs that exceed 48 feet per Section 705.2.B.4.b. One sign within the PUD will be allowed a maximum height of 70 feet without a use permit provided the location is approved by the Public Transit Director.

c. Spacing between signs shall be a minimum of 1,000 feet on the same side of a freeway. Signs at a height of 50 feet or less may be placed closer together, but no closer than 500 feet between signs on the same side of a freeway.

d. These off-premise signs shall be allowed to display on-premise copy and off-premise copy. On-premise sign structure shall not display off-premise sign copy.

D. Landscape.

1. Landscape.

a. Landscape shall be provided with the erection of an off-premise sign on any lot not occupied by permanent structures, outdoor uses or parking.

b. Landscape shall equal 48 square feet for each lineal foot of sign face to a maximum of 75 percent of the area of the lot. Where landscape is not available to be maintained due to a lack of water, an alternative location may be used; alternately a decorative pole cover would satisfy the requirement.

c. The landscape shall be placed where there is the most community benefit and shall consist of one tree, five shrubs and ground cover of living plant materials for each 300 square feet of required landscape area, a plan for which shall be submitted in conjunction with the application for a permit in accordance with Section 705.D. Landscaped area shall be provided with a permanent watering system and all plant materials shall be maintained in a living condition.

E. Illumination/Digital Standards.

1. Off-premise signs may be internally illuminated, indirectly illuminated, or directly illuminated.

2. Intermittent or flashing illumination or animation may be permitted subject to a use permit. Automatic panel changes (trivision) are permitted.

3. Electronic message displays are permitted subject to obtaining a use permit in accordance with the provisions of Section 307 and satisfying the following conditions:

a. The sign copy image shall be static with no animation and with no flashing, blinking, or moving lights;

b. In the transition between copy changes, there shall be no sense of movement from one image to the next;

c. Network time shall be made available on the digital sign faces to the City of Phoenix for emergency messaging—messages to override all copy for one hour, then display for eight seconds in every minute as long as needed;

d. In the event of an electronic malfunction the sign shall be shut off until repairs have been made to restore the electronic messaging system;

e. The sign copy changes shall not occur more frequently than every eight seconds, unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Administrator;

f. Dimmer on sign shall be set in the evening hours (from sunset to 11:00 p.m.) not to exceed 300 nits for signs that are 14 feet by 48 feet and 342 nits for signs that are ten feet by 30 feet to ensure compliance with current ordinance standard for illumination, unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Administrator;

g. From 11:00 p.m. until sunrise all sign illumination shall be extinguished and sign shall be equipped with an automatic device to assure compliance. The only exception to this stipulation will be for amber alerts and other governmental emergencies, unless otherwise specified by the Zoning Administrator.

4. On any lot contiguous to a residential zoning district and residential use (RE-43 through R-2 and P.A.D.-1 through P.A.D.-12) or separated only by a street or alley, no such illuminated sign structure may be placed in such manner that any portion of the face of the sign is visible. A vacant lot shall be treated as a residential use.

5. Lighting for off-premise structures shall be shielded in accordance with Section 23-100 of the Municipal Code unless the structure: 1) exceeds 301 square feet per sign face; 2) consists of panels which are designed to be removed from the top of the sign board; and 3) is equipped with an automatic device which shuts off the fixture between 11:00 p.m. and sunrise. For such signs, the lighting may consist of no more than four bottom-mounted individual fixtures (or lamps) which produce a maximum of 40,000 lumens per fixture, and where no more than 1,117 lumens per fixture spill or are cast beyond the sign face.

a. Off-premise structures may use fluorescent fixtures. These fixtures must be mounted at the top of the sign structure and must be partially shielded so that the candlepower per 1,000 lamp lumens does not numerically exceed 25 (two and one-half percent) at an angle of 90 degrees above nadir (horizontal), and 100 (ten percent) at a vertical angle of 80 degrees above nadir. This applies to any lateral angle around the luminaire.

F. Special Requirements for Groundsheet Signs. Groundsheet signs are permitted in the A-1 and A-2 Zoning Districts located within the boundaries of 35th Avenue and the eastern City limits along Van Buren Street on the north; from Van Buren Street to Interstate 10 (I-10) along the eastern City limits; along the centerline of I-10 and Interstate 17 (Maricopa Freeway) from the eastern City limits to 19th Avenue; from 19th Avenue south to Broadway Road; along Broadway Road on the south between 19th and 35th Avenues; and along 35th Avenue between Broadway Road and Van Buren Street, subject to the following restrictions:

1. There shall be a minimum property size of four undeveloped acres.

2. There shall be a maximum sign area of six acres.

3. Signs shall not be located within 2,000 feet of another sign.

4. Signs shall be screened to eliminate legibility from adjacent roadways, freeways, or adjacent properties.

5. Screening shall be provided on all sides of the property on which the sign is located as follows:

a. Fences: A six-foot-high solid fence shall be built in compliance with the applicable provisions of Sections 507 Tab A and 703 and consistent with all setback requirements;

b. Landscaping: Shall be in conformance with the standards for the underlying zoning district and Sections 507 Tab A and 703, as approved by the Planning and Development Department.

6. The illumination of signs is prohibited.

7. The sign and associated structures shall be constructed as follows:

a. The materials used must be non-reflective; and

b. The materials used must be flame retardant and environmentally safe, as approved by the Planning and Development Department; and

c. The materials used must be permeable so as to allow rainwater to pass through the sign and associated structures to allow drainage per grading and drainage plans approved by the Fire and Planning and Development Departments; and

d. To be securely fastened to the ground or support structure, subject to plans approved by the Planning and Development Department; and

e. The height of three feet above natural grade shall not be exceeded, as approved by the Planning and Development Department; and

f. No more than one advertisement, logo or message is permitted per sign.

8. Prior to issuance of the sign permit, the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee shall review the permit to ensure compliance with the requirements of Section 705.2.C.1 through 71.

9. In addition to appropriate sign permits, all necessary structural plan approvals and permits must be obtained prior to the installation of the sign or any associated structures.

G. Nonconforming Off-Premise Signs.

1. It shall be unlawful to hereafter erect, construct, alter, maintain, or use any sign in violation of any provisions contained herein, except as provided in this section.

2. No nonconforming off-premise sign shall be moved, altered, re-erected, relocated or replaced unless brought into compliance with screening and projecting ladder requirements of Section 705.2.A.3 and 42, except as provided in this section. The area of the sign may not be increased.

3. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter and ordinance, a legal nonconforming sign that is located on a parcel of property which is severed from a larger parcel of property and acquired by a public entity for public use by condemnation, purchase, or dedication may be relocated on the property that was not acquired without extinguishing the legal nonconforming status of that sign; provided, that the nonconforming sign:

a. Is not increased in area or height;

b. Remains structurally unchanged except for reasonable repairs or alterations;

c. Is placed in the most similar position possible on the remaining property that it occupied prior to the relocation;

d. Is relocated in a manner so as to comply with all applicable safety requirements. After relocation pursuant to this subsection, the legal nonconforming sign shall be subject to all provisions of this section in its new location.

4. A reduction in the number of nonconforming boards will promote a better visual environment in the City. A nonconforming board located on a City street or on a permitted freeway can be rebuilt to a digital subject to the use permit standards in Section 307, in addition to meeting two of the following:

a. Removal of 1,200 square feet of existing nonconforming off-premise signs within the City limits for each digital face requested;

b. If the parcel has no landscaping along the street frontage, a minimum five-foot landscape strip consisting of one two-inch caliper tree for every 30 feet on center along with five shrubs and ground cover for every tree shall be provided along the street frontage, including a permanent water supply. If landscape is impractical then this requirement may be satisfied by installing a decorative pole cover;

c. Reductions in size or height or changes in configuration, angle or construction which will bring the structure into greater compatibility with the size and scale of nearby buildings, or other changes approved by the Zoning Administrator which promote a better visual environment in the area.

5. A nonconforming off-premise sign not requesting a digital may be rebuilt subject to the use permit standards in Section 307, in addition to the following:

a. Reduction in size or height or change in configuration, angle or construction which brings the structure into greater compatibility with the size of adjacent buildings within the context area;

b. Improvement in placement, addition of landscaping, or improvements to lighting. (Ord. No. G-5669, 2011; Ord. No. G-6178, 2016; Ord. No. G-6747, § 1, 2020; Ord. No. G-6703, §§ 1, 2, 2020)

1Please note there was a scrivener’s error in the adoption of Ordinance G-5669. The above reference should be to "Section 705.2.F.1 through 7" not "Section 705.2.C.1 through 7". This will be corrected in a future update.

2Please note there was a scrivener’s error in the adoption of Ordinance G-5669. The above reference should be to "Section 705.2.C.3 and 4" not "Section 705.2.A.3 and 4". This will be corrected in a future update.