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The Planning Division is updating the city’s Sign Code (Westminster Municipal Code, Title XI, Chapter 11 - allow approximately 20 seconds to load).

This code addresses signs as a means of visual communication for the public and enables the use of signs to identify businesses, services and other activities within the city.

Throughout this update, multiple factors will be kept in mind, including:

  • The United States Supreme Court case from June 2015 (Reed v. Gilbert), that places strict limitations on local, state and federal governments as to what may and what may not be encompassed by sign regulation. 
  • Improving the organization of the document to eliminate any inconsistencies or contradictions. 
  • Updating information relative to current business practices related to sign design, purpose and scale, and looking at refinements to meet the needs of different neighborhood or district contexts within the community.
  • Revising the code to make it more user-friendly and easier to administer.     

The following goals have been established for the new code:

  • Make it easier to read and understand; simple and highly visual in nature.
  • Use tables, charts, definitions and graphics to promote ease of understanding for all sign types.
  • Assure it’s legally sound, defendable and enforceable.
  • Create it with a straightforward, transparent process.
  • Make sure it fairly balances the needs of the city’s business community with the needs of the community at-large.
  • A possible variation of standards based on different neighborhood contexts rather than a “one size fits all” approach.    

The Sign Code Update Process and Timeline:

The initial planning and layout of the update process began with Staff in December of 2017. Goals and timetables were laid out, and some early logistical hurdles were tackled. It was during this time frame that the City decided to tap into the strong wealth of expertise and experience available in the marketplace by hiring a consultant to support Staff with the update project. To this end, work began on the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant in January 2018.

In April 2018, the consultant contract was awarded to White & Smith, LLC, who is partnered with Winter & Company, and Kendig-Keast Collaborative. The three firms are, collectively, experts in the field of sign code development. White & Smith focuses on the legal aspects of the code. Winter & Company focuses on public outreach and research. Kendig-Keast Collaborative focuses on layout, design, and format of the code in terms of how it will integrate with Municode, which is the digital platform that the City Code is maintained on. All three companies have worked together to manage the project under Planning Staff’s direction, and are collaborating to draft new versions of the Sign Code.

Below is a timeline that spans the entire process thus far:

  • December 2017 - Initial discussions begin: Sign Code Update                                                                                                             
  • January 2018 - RFP for consultants developed                                                                                                                                
  • March 1, 2018 - RFP for consultants advertised                                                                                                                                 
  • April 30, 2018 - Contract awarded to consultants                                                                                                                              
  • May 14, 2018 - Consultant contract approved by City Council                                                                                                          
  • June 11, 2018 - Official kickoff of Sign Code Update                                                                                                                        
  • June 11, 2018 - Phase 1 (Public Outreach and Feedback) begins                                                                                                    
  • July 18, 2018 - Public Open House #1                                                                                                                                             
  • July 24, 2018 - Sign Code Update webpage opens on City’s website                                                                                              
  • August 8, 2018 - Visual Preference Survey added to website                                                                                                          
  • November 15, 2018 - Visual Preference Survey completed and closed                                                                                                     
  • November 29, 2018 - Phase 1 ends                                                                                                                                                             
  • December 3, 2018 - Phase 2 (Policy Decisions, Drafting, Public Review and Adoption) begins                                                              
  • May 28, 2019 - First draft of new Sign Code delivered by consultant                                                                                               
  • September 3, 2019 - Second draft of new Sign Code delivered by consultant                                                                                          
  • October 21, 2019 - City Council Study Session                                                                                                                                     
  • November 11, 2019* - Begin third draft of new Sign Code                                                                                                                          
  • December 2019* - Third draft of new Sign Code delivered by consultant                                                                                              
  • December 2019* - Third draft made available for public comment                                                                                                         
  • December 2019* - Public Open House #2                                                                                                                                              
  • January 2020* - Planning Commission Study Session                                                                                                                       
  • April 2020* - Planning Commission (Adoption)                                                                                                                              
  • May 2020* - City Council (Adoption)                                                                                                                                             

(* Date is tentative and/or to be determined)

Detail of Phase 1 public outreach efforts: 

  • One-on-one interviews: Staff and the consultant team have conducted in-depth interviews with both internal and external stakeholders, including city leadership, key members of various city departments and divisions, and local business owners. Staff developed a list of important external opinion leaders, community leaders, business owners, sign manufacturers, and others, and helped the consultants interview these people, as well.
  • Open house: Staff and the consultant team hosted an open house on June 18, 2018. The project was introduced to those in attendance, and elements of the Visual Preference Survey were explained.
  • Social Media and Electronic Outreach: The Community Outreach Division has repeatedly provided links to the Sign Code Update webpage and visual preference survey on Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, and Instagram. The Sign Code was also introduced in the City Edition (which is sent to all businesses and homes in the City), and has been a regular feature in both Westminster Weekly and the City Manager’s Notes.
  • Public appearances: Staff met with the Chamber of Commerce on July 24, 2018, the Keller Williams Preferred Realty Group on August 20, 2018, disseminated information at the City Council Community Meeting at the MAC on Sept. 26, 2018, and met with the 710 Rotary Group on Nov.21, 2018.
  • Webpage: The webpage continues to receive traffic from users ranging from interested citizens to sign manufacturers to business owners and property managers. Users leave comments and ask questions. While it was open, visitors also took the Visual Preference Survey. Those users who posted questions and left their contact information have received personal responses from Staff, as well. To date, we have received 22 comments, five of which asked for - and received - a response. The webpage received 2,053 visits through November 2018. Of these, 1,558 visits were from unique users.

Other efforts undertaken by Staff and the consultant team in Phase I included:

  • Analysis of the city’s current Sign Code (WMC §11-11)
  • Research of best practices in sign code design
  • Research of sign codes in neighboring jurisdictions
  • Identification of key issues to be addressed and resolved
  • Summarizing all public input received
  • Laying out strategies for the drafting the new Sign Code

FAQ's

An all-new sign code will be put into place featuring graphics, charts, tables and other tools to aid in understanding and ease of use.  

The current Sign Code is listed on the city's website under Westminster Municipal Code, Title Xl, Chapter 11 (allow approximately 20 seconds to load).

The existing code is hard to understand and may include standards that are too restrictive or not well defined. The city wants to ensure that the code complies with the Reed v. Gilbert Supreme Court decision and is fair, clear and easier to work with.
The city plans to release a draft that the public may review and comment on by the end of January 2020. There will also be an open house scheduled to help introduce the draft to the public. Updates to this schedule will be made on this webpage, so please check back periodically. 

The city is working with the public, identified stakeholders, its consultant team and staff to ensure that the best possible code is created. This has meant a great deal of careful research and significant stakeholder outreach. There have been hundreds of hours of thoughtful discussion and consideration. The city is listening to every participant and respondent to ensure that all voices are heard.

While the new code may not satisfy everyone, the city believes that it will encompass the best practices, avoid those things that are troublesome or less effective, be fair and balanced, and meet the needs of everyone who lives, plays or works in the city. 

Signs of all types, including electronic reader boards, are being considered and discussed.

PROVIDE FEEDBACK

Give us your thoughts about signs in the City of Westminster through our Open Feedback Form. 

OPEN FEEDBACK FORM

Contact Us:

Senior Planner, David German, dgerman@cityofwestminster.us