City News

Following several meetings in which the topic of signs has been discussed, city of Sedona staff feels it’s found the middle ground it’s been seeking to avoid an all-ornothing scenario.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Sedona City Council was given yet another update on the revised sign code. While the majority of the code has met little resistance by council or the Planning and Zoning Commission, one part has — off-premises signs.

A city report states that the need for an update has been discussed for quite some time, and was identified as a council priority several years ago. A few months into the update process, the project was put on hold due to a U.S. Supreme Court case involving how cities may regulate signs [Reed vs. Town of Gilbert].

Essentially, the court stated that a city cannot regulate signs based on the content of a sign but can regulate such things as location, height, material, lighting, size and function.

The current city code states that the only off-premises sign that are allowed are for garage sales and real estate open houses. But due to the ruling, cities are now faced with an all-or-nothing scenario when it comes to these types of signs. Council is expected to vote on the updated sign code at its Sept. 26 meeting.

“I think we have good news tonight,” Community Development Director Audree Juhlin said. “We have heard everything you have been talking about over the last few months. We’ve been able to take that information and those comments and incorporate them with the city attorney’s model sign ordinance and present tonight something we feel accomplishes that middle ground you were trying to achieve.”

During the city meetings regarding signs, discussion has ranged from prohibition, to allowance with a sunset, to allowance with criteria and conditions, providing some regulation. A report states staff’s proposed language allows for temporary off-premises signs in residential districts only. This allows for the placement of wayfinding signs, for uses such as open houses, garage sales and open studio.

These signs would be managed through a sign permitting system and could be issued over-the-counter, similar to the current process for on-site temporary banner signs. In those cases, the temporary banner signs, upon approval, are issued a temporary sign permit sticker that must be placed on the approved sign and aids in the enforcement of temporary signs.

The following regulations, as recommended by staff, would apply to the specific temporary signs as indicated and subject to the issuance of a temporary sign permit.

  • Up to four temporary signs may be placed either on the owner’s property or offsite for the purpose of directing the public when the property owner is opening the property to the public for a residential activity such as real estate open house, garage/yard sale or estate sale. Maximum of one sign may be located on-site and a maximum of three signs may be located off-site, with no more than one sign per turning movement.
  • Signs may be displayed a maximum of 12 times per year.
  • Signs may be displayed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Signs shall not exceed 3 square feet in area and 3 feet in height. n Signs shall not be illuminated.
  • Signs shall not be placed so as to create a traffic hazard, as determined by city staff. Signs shall not be placed in ADOT right-of-way, traffic medians, public sidewalks or bicycle paths.
  • Signs may be placed in city of Sedona right-of-way in residential districts, but shall not be attached to any trees, fences, utility poles, light posts, street signs or any other public facility located within city right-of-way.
  • Signs may be placed on privately owned property in residential districts with the written permission of the property owner.
  • Accepting payment or any form of compensation for the placement of off-premise signs is prohibited.
  • Temporary signs in residential districts shall be used only for wayfinding purposes.

“With all the discussion we’ve had and all the comments we’ve received, I’m really happy with this,” City Attorney Robert Pickels said. “It’s defensible and I think it’s compliant with Reed [vs. Gilbert]. I think it’s a good product.”


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