Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers provide further information regarding the Sign Ordinance. It is intended to guide users to the applicable code sections, along with process and procedures.
- All signs for non-city uses are prohibited from being placed in the City’s right-of-ways (ROW). Any proposed freestanding sign will have to be placed on private property, and not obstruct any sight visibility triangles.
- Existing signs in the ROW are legal non-conforming and reasonable non-structural repairs and alterations, including changes to the face, color, and letters, may be made to non-conforming signs with a sign permit.
If you are unfamiliar with a particular term (such as sum total sign area, area of sign, mid-size monument sign, etc.), reference this section for specific sign terminology, definitions and graphics.
Face panel changes for any existing building and freestanding signs do require a sign permit. A sign permit is not required when repairing a sign for maintenance if the structure and composition does not change (like-for-like).
General sign requirements for permanent sign types:
- Prohibited lighting and animation
- Directory signs
- Traffic directional signs
- Prohibited raceways
- Freestanding sign setbacks
- Permanent window signs
- Sight visibility triangles
- Sign maintenance
- Multi-tenant commercial developments with more than 30,000 square feet of floor area are allowed to display a maximum three (3) tenant panels per side on a mid-size monument or tower sign.
- Tenant panels do count against the tenant’s sum total sign area.
- If a property has frontage along a scenic corridor-designated street, this section applies to all freestanding signs in the scenic corridor. The scenic corridor sign requirements are divided into two parts: signs within a scenic corridor not located on property zoned Environmentally Sensitive Lands Overlay (ESLO), and signs within a scenic corridor located on property zoned ESLO.
- To find out what the zoning is, refer to Scottsdale’s Online Parcel Information Map. To find out whether a street has a scenic corridor designation, refer to Scottsdale’s Scenic Corridor Policy & Guidelines. Review of a scenic corridor sign starts with a Pre-Application Submittal and require development review and approval prior to permit onsubmittal.
- Signs on awnings are regulated under this section. The design of the awning shall adhere to the building’s appropriate Architectural Design Guideline.
- Awnings require a separate design review and permitting process that starts with a Pre-Application Submittal. After the pre-application submittal, the design of the awning is reviewed either through the City’s Staff Approval or Development Review Board process. Once approved conceptually, plans are the submitted for plan review for Building & Fire Code compliance, and a building permit is issued once the plans are approved.
- Regulations on open and closed signs. Businesses utilizing open and closed signs not using exposed tube-type illumination (neon and LED tubing) and not animate or flash, are allowed to be placed within 3 feet of a window pane.
- Open and closed signs using exposed neon or LED tubing with animation are prohibited, and must be setback greater than 3 feet from the window pane.
- Building wall sign requirements for all Unspecified Uses (not listed as a Specified Use per Section 8.510) based on the underlying zoning district. To find out what the zoning district is, refer to Scottsdale’s Online Parcel Information Map to reference zoning information.
- Individual uses in the PRC district shall adhere to Section 8.533.II .
- Freestanding ground and monument signs are not allowed for individual Unspecified Uses within a multi-tenant commercial development. Refer to Sections 8.531 thru 8.533 for freestanding sign requirements for multi-tenant commercial developments.
All signs within the Service Residential zoning district shall adhere to Section 8.503. If the property is zoned S-R, pay close attention to the sum total sign area and maximum building and ground sign area requirements. There is also a Zoning Interpretation addressing Signs in the S-R Zoning District (PDF)
All signs within the Commercial Office zoning district shall adhere to Section 8.505. If the property is zoned C-O, pay close attention to the tenant’s sum total sign area requirements.
Building wall and freestanding sign requirements for all Specified Uses:
- Travel accommodations and resorts
- Multi-family apartment and condominium developments
- Single-family developments
- Places of worship
- Public uses
- Private and charter schools
- Service stations
- Movie theaters
- Auto dealerships
This section does not apply if a Specified Use is located within a shared multi-tenant building (refer to Section 8.500 - Unspecified Uses instead).
Sign requirements for all freestanding and building complex identification signs for all multi-tenant commercial developments:
- Developments with less than 30,000 SF of floor area
- Developments with more than 30,000 SF of floor area
- Developments zoned Planned Regional Center (PRC)
Individual tenants within a multi-tenant commercial development shall adhere to the underlying zoning district’s provisions outlined under Section 8.500, except for uses in the PRC. Individual uses in the PRC district shall adhere to Section 8.533.II .
Sign requirements for all semi-permanent sign types:
- Window signs (vinyl, paint or poster) on window panes.
- Development signs
- Contractor signs
- Real estate signs (for sale, lease and rent)
- Open house signs
- No trespassing signs
- Campaign signs
Signage on temporary construction fencing is allowed in accordance with Section 1-1.407 of the Design Standards and Policies Manual, and Section 7.706 of the Zoning Ordinance. A development can opt to place the following semi-permanent sign types on a freestanding post or mounted on the temporary construction fence based on the size allowed in Section 8.601.I on-premises development signs; contractor and subcontractor signs; for sale, lease and rent signs; and no trespassing signs. Each type of sign shall be allowed to display one (1) sign per street frontage.The Current Planning Department may approve temporary/security fence screening that may contain development images of the building elevations, site plan, and landscape plan that were approvedby the Development Review Board (DRB) through the public hearing process. Lifestyle images, advertising and renderings not approved by the DRB may not be used. Signage and wording is restricted to what is allowed under Section 8.601.I (refer to the previous paragraph), and shall not be included as part of the DRB-approved development images.
- Section 1-1.407 - Temporary Construction Fencing (Design Standards)(PDF)& Policies Manual) (PDF)
- Section 7.706 - Temporary/Security Fencing Requirements (Zoning Ordinance)
Fence wraps and signs on fence wraps require a separate design review and approval process that starts with a Pre-Application Submittal. The design is reviewed through the City’s Staff Approval process.
Applicants that would like to utilize development images on, or part of the screening shall submit a to the One Stop Shop. The pre-application submittal shall include but not limited to:
- Completed pre-application and pre-application fee (PDF).Reference the appropriate Development Review Board case number.
- Narrative describing the scope of work.
- A dimensioned site plan showing the location of all improvements (new and existing), easements, intersection & driveway sight distance, traffic safety triangle, the location of the temporary/security fence and screening, and the linear feet of total fencing proposed. Show the location of all proposed semi-permanent sign types and development images.
- A dimensioned color elevation of the proposed fence, screening, and development images. Include dimensioned renderings and details of any proposed semi-permanent signs that will be part of the fence wrap.
- Total square feet of the screening and total square feet of the proposed images.
- Property owner approval letter.
Upon review of the pre-application submittal, staff may approve, deny, or require correction to be made to the application in order to receive approval.
- The City of Scottsdale does not provide any pet waste signs for residents or homeowner associations.
- Contact a local sign company or sign vendor to assist with producing and installing pick-up after your dog/pet waste signs for your property or HOA common areas.
- Dog/pet waste signs shall reference Section 4-18 of the Scottsdale Revised Code (Chapter 4 - Keeping of Domestic Animals).
Such sign may be mounted on a wall or be freestanding, and the maximum height shall be (10) feet from grade.
- The maximum area of such sign shall be four (4) square feet.
- Such signs, if placed on a parcel of land, shall be separated by a distance of one hundred (100) feet. Such sign shall not be placed in any public right-of-way.
- Such sign shall not be placed so as to create a traffic hazard.
- No permit shall be required for such sign.
- Sign must be removed if damaged, destroyed or no longer legible.
Address numbers that meet the minimum requirements in accordance with Section 505 of the Scottsdale Fire Code do not require a sign permit and shall not violate any provisions of the Sign Ordinance:
- Minimum letter/number height: 12” tall
A sign permit is required for address signs mounted on any building or freestanding sign that exceeds the 12” letter/number height. Address numbers shall be reviewed for compliance with all applicable provisions of the Sign Ordinance (for example: you cannot have an address number with exposed neon or LED tubing, which is prohibited by code).