Prescott eNews  |   Chino Valley eNews  |    Prescott Valley eNews    |   eNewsAZ |   ArizonaPod.News

What Makes a Sign?

08 May 2017  

Prescott's new sign ordinance brings more questions than answers.

When the United States Supreme Court handed down a recent decision regarding sign ordinances, the City of Prescott reworked their sign ordinance in an attempt to come into compliance with the new ruling. 

But, as everyone knows, good intentions often have unintended consequences. 

The new ordinance separates temporary signage into two categories, depending on whether the signs are being placed on residential property or commercial property. Political signs are considered temporary. 

Commercial property: 

  • Only 1 sign is allowed
  • The sign must be permitted by the City of Prescott
  • The permit costs $75 per sign
  • The maximum size allowed is 24 square feet, such as 4’x6’.

Residential property:

  • No restriction on the number of signs
  • No permit required by the City of Prescott
  • No fee per sign
  • The maximum size allowed per sign is 6 square feet, such as 2’x3’.

See: New Limited Signage in Prescott Could Change the Political Landscape

So, what constitutes a sign? A leisurely drive through Prescott, brings more questions than answers.

Are flags considered a temporary sign? 

Some businesses even have two flags. Is that allowed?

What about little flags on car antennas?

Are flags on top of roofs considered temporary or permanent?

What about business signs that are not made of permanent materials?

What about event signs?

Was a permit obtained for for each of these, along with the $75 fee?

What about "for lease" signs, or real estate signs?

Many places of business have more than one sign on their property. Were these permitted? Was a fee paid?

Two signs on one corner and the same piece of property. Is this allowed?

Does it make a difference if the real estate sign is posted at a school? This school has more than one "available" sign. Were they permitted? Was the fee paid?

Does this school sign at Prescott College count?

Signs in store windows

Speaking of “for lease” signs, many are found in store windows - what about that? 

Creative signage

Some businesses get very creative. For example, if you wrap a sign around a stack of tires, does that count? Does the business need to pay a permit fee for that?

Is the sign on the left in this photo considered a “sandwich” sign? (There’s also another stack of tires here.) 

What about the sign on top of this gas pump?

Business discretion?

What if businesses just put up a sign? Is a permit needed? 

The Elks Theater changes signs on a regular basis. Are these permitted? They’re obviously not permanent.

Parking lots are full of signs

What about signs on cart holders in parking lots? 

Parking lots have lots of signs - some are rather necessary, do they count? 

Random signs

What about signs just stuck on poles?

Does the person running the garage sale need to pay $75 per sign?

What if someone sticks up a sign without asking? Who pays for that permit?

Sometimes businesses want to let people know that they’re looking for employees. Does that need a permit?

Murals: Art or sign?

Are murals considered signs? Does a sign have to have words to be considered a sign? What if the mural contains a logo?


What about awnings? Are they considered signs?

Lots of signs - who decides what's legit and what isn't?

Some businesses go a little overboard, at least according to the sign ordinance. What about multiple signs?

I count nine signs in this photo, how about you?

This business is actually using their vehicle as a sign - at least on the weekends. Does that count?

Commercial or residential?

What if a business is in a residential neighborhood? Which ordinance do they need to follow? Typically, at this bed and breakfast, multiple signs line the fence during the political season. 

Is the City of Prescott governed by the same rules?

Does government have to follow the sign ordinance? Also, what about signs on dumpsters?

Finally, one last question. 

Just how much time does the Code Enforcement guy really have?

Tomorrow, the City of Prescott Council will discuss the matter in an Executive Session meeting that starts at 11 AM.

Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder and Editor of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She asks a lot of questions! In her spare time, she loves photography, cooking and hanging out with her family.