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New Limited Signage in Prescott Could Change the Political Landscape

06 May 2017  

It’s an election year in the City of Prescott, but don’t expect it to look the same this time around. 

In the past, during a campaign season, one would expect to see the landscape practically littered with political signs. Not this year, it’s going to be different. No signs will be allowed in the City right-of-way, and each commercial business will be allowed to have only one sign, which must be permitted by the City at a cost of $75 each.

In other words, spots for campaign signs are going to be as valuable as gold this time around.

It was November 15, 2016, when the Prescott City Council voted on a new sign ordinance in response to the United States Supreme Court decision of Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, Arizona.

In Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, the Supreme Court held that sign codes cannot be based on content. Because of that, Prescott City Attorney Jon Paladini determined that the local sign codes must be changed. The City packet read, "The regulations follow a pattern found in many, if not most, cities regulations in that they have different limitation on sign size or placement depending upon the type of sign. A campaign sign has different regulations than a garage sale sign, which is different from a sign on a commercial building. While these differences seem logical, they are based upon the message of the sign and thus the content of the speech…  A new proposal was formulated to regulate signs based upon logical criteria, and without differences in the content of the sign message...The proposed regulations hold signs to two general categories, permanent and temporary."

Under the new ordinance, political signs are considered to be temporary signs. The requirements for temporary sign placement (political or otherwise) are as follows:

  • Signs are banned in the public rights-of-way

  • Temporary signs on commercial property have to be permitted

  • The permit, which lasts for 180 days, costs $75

  • A copy of the permit must be maintained on the premises and be readily available upon demand for verification by City inspector

  • Only one temporary sign is permitted per business

  • Each sign can only be up to 24 square feet (6’x4’)

  • Temporary signs on residential property do not require a permit (or a fee)

  • Each sign on residential property can be no more than 6 square feet (think 2’x3’)

  • It cannot be higher than 5 feet

  • Residential property can have as many signs as it chooses

Watch the November 15, 2016 City Council Meeting video here. The sign ordinance starts around 14:50. 

Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She will be leaving for new adventures on May 15, 2020.