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Stone in my shoe.


New Member
In our little market, as I imagine in most areas, there are sign codes regulating signs as to size, permitted uses, mounting considerations, etc.

But I continue to see "illegal" or non-conforming signs going up, all made by the competition. Whenever I go over to the City Hall of obtain permits, I can't help but feel like a chump. Why should I have to go thru the hoops when the competition doesn't apparently get their stuff approved?

There doesn't seem to be much, if any, enforcement for non-compliant signs. Do any of you feel as I do? That it makes you feel like doing an end-run around the permit process instead of playing by the rules?

Just curious.


New Member
I feel your pain sir.
Here is SoCal, its different with each city. some are easyand some require super detailed engineer drafts for approval. Some go as far to request live samples meaning, i have to make one of the signs for their approval and ive even been told that i have to make enough for each member of the committee so they don't have to pass one model around... and then this must be done again if they don't like the first sample. Of course this is all passed on to the client's cost but at times it make job cost prohibitive to our clients. So now that we know how certain city's handle permitting we warn our clients and offer a waiver that says we will build your sign with out permits but you release us and accept all liability and responsibility. This works in most cases and we have never had an issue. This is only for non structural signs though. If there is a sign that requires major construction (ie pole signs) we warn the client and proceed to don our circus clown costumes and begin the hoop jumping...

Joseph Dunkle

New Member
As your codes enforcment office what up or who ever you see to get your permit. I have the same problem in my city. Up the road from my rouse you can not see past a sign, then an oak tree and then a temporay 30 day banner that has been up for 5 months now. I emailed my codes enforcment officer and nothing ever happened. If talking to them dosent work get it put on your city councils agenda at there next meeting and explain to them what the problem is.

SignMan Sez

New Member
You could do as one sign guy does...(no names mentioned)....
He has a 3 sets of bogus sign company magnetics he uses in different areas when he installs illegally.
If I remember correctly they are "ABC Sign Co.", "ACME Sign Co." and "SIGNS & SH*T".

Although this is a true story, I'm not advocating this type of practice. I know it sucks to see "bootleggers" seemingly get away with non-conforming signs, etc.

Maybe a series of phonebooth placed calls (non tracable) to the local Planning & Zoning office of specific violations might send a message to the offenders. It may even generate business for you by those who need to find an "upright" company who plays by the rules.


New Member
I'm trying to address this situation too. I just had a sign proposal rejected because my client wanted a sign placed in a "right of way", but the township code forbids it.
My problem is there are several "non-conforming" signs that are placed in similar areas throughout the township. And since a couple of them are right up the street from the municipal building, I assumed that the placement the client and I chose would also be acceptable. Talk about selective inforcement :(
Since I am a new business, not wanting to ruffle any feathers with the powers that be within township, I decided to bring up the issue personally with my township commissioner. I'm sorry to say that I'm not expecting anything to happen, but time will tell.



New Member
Play by the rules and someday it won't come back on you. we file for all permits, we stick with all the rules and we haven't had a customer call to tell us that they can turn their sign on because it's illegal or they have to take it down because it's too big. We've never had a building burn down because our stuff wasn't up to code. We do get calls from other sign companies customer's with these problems. If the towns, cities or states that you are dealing with now are not enforcing, they probably will as it's getting more and more common to have design review boards rather than a guy in a zoning office who just takes the money for the permit.


New Member
government hypocrasy or beer-ocrasy is not all it's cracked up to be...

first there are someones best intentions for establishing law or policy for everyones benefit...

..then there are committees to try to homogenize those best intentions for mass appeal...

...then lawmakers try to write, impose & sometimes enforce the resulting law, born loosely out of some original best intention, & rarely articulate enough to serve that intent under the best of interpretations...

...and then some status quo of actual adherance, disregard, or a compromise between the two begins to take precedence

...after which the ability for a given law to actually serve the original intentions is often lost in the shuffle.

Therefore, I would place the blame for the situation on the nature of government & the solution from a small business standpoint is to serve the marketing & budgetary needs of your client before serving the useless needs of the county by imposing their constraints upon yourself & your client if THEY are not actively imposing compliance to those constraints upon your competitors.

If you think your client wants a sign that is dangerous.. don't make it, but if you think you client wants a sign that is simply non-compliant... have 'em sign a waiver & then sell 'em the sign!

Joseph Dunkle

New Member
Another thing you might want to consider is some of the signs that me be in the ROW may have been installed before the new or revised sign codes came out so they may be grandfathered. I was picking some permits up yesterday and they asked me why Acme Doctors office sign was installed yet and I told them that Dr Acme doesn't want to install landscaping and I will not have a sign installed out of code. They informed me they are having alot of people not install landscaping with there signs and that they are going to be revising the codes so that when you submit a application for a permit it must include a landscpae plan as well.

**This city requires that for every sq/ft of sign face you have on a free standing you must have the same for sq/ft of landscaping to exclude grass around the base. So if the sign is 20 sq/ft double sided, plant 40 sq/ft of landscaping**


New Member
Be carefull where you tread. Bringing in some shit is not good. Someday you just might step in it yourself. Keep the mouth shut and play the game yourself..


New Member
Just do the right thing....and right things will come to you. Karma baby....Karma. :cool:

Either that....or do all your installs on the weekend. LOL :wink:



New Member
This reminds me of the NEC and its enforcement! One inspector passes thing done as he states correctly and another inspector interprets the code another way and says no! This is plain BS!

mark in tx

New Member
It all really comes down to how you get along with your local permit office and their people. Sad to say, but if y'all drink at the same bar you'll probably never have a problem unless you burn down a building.

A few others have said it, but it can't be emphasized enough.

Do your work by the local ordnances and codes, get permits, and you'll have nothing to worry about.


New Member
If you do things the right way you can turn it into a strong marketing feature.

A lot of people are totally in the dark about rules and regulations- in the past I found that by doing structural calcs, lighting level calcs and going through the whole planning thing customers were happy to put work my way rather than using the guy who didn't know or didn't care how to do it properly.

In the UK it's the owner or occupier of the building who gets whacked with a removal notice and a non compliance fine- these can be pretty hefty. The notices can be stated as removal with 48 hours if you are really unlucky.

Mentioning on your quotes that your package includes all the required permits and stuff will set you out as a professional- and it will probably lead to the customer asking the other bidders why they haven't mentioned permits- which already has you ahead in the customers mind.

Good customers WANT to be legal and safe so demonstrating that's your standard approach will help you.

The last guy I know who didn't want to go the permission route got stung a year after he opened- it looked like he had got away with his neon and smart new shopfront until the council dropped on him and ordered all the neon out, the shopfront and windows put back to their original condition. A friend of mine worked for the carpentry firm he had to employ to rebuild the victorian windows he'd ripped out- £20K just for that.

An expensive way to learn to go through the right channels :)


New Member
signage said:
This reminds me of the NEC and its enforcement! One inspector passes thing done as he states correctly and another inspector interprets the code another way and says no! This is plain BS!
Having been Journeyman electrician for many years the NEC is a book of "Shall Be Except When's so interpetation is tough all grey area locally here one inspector writes the tests & also gives classes so you can pass the test as you then know his interpretation of the rules can we say conflict of interest? hmmmm :beer:beer:beer


New Member
Yes but he isn't the only inspector, also what happens when you go outside of his area. I have done work and had one inspector pass it and did the same thing on the next job and had the inspector reject it! When I questioned both of them the one that rejected it said it was his interpretation and that the way it goes! The other inspector said he had no problem passing it and he could inspect in the other area. Guess what I did when I worked in that area next time!