Sandwich Board Alert

Unfortunately the following is the latest in the ongoing battle over the legality of Sandwich Boards:

Dear Merchant Association Representatives:

The City of Ann Arbor has been receiving an increasing number of complaints from the public about violations of the city’s sign regulations. We are seeking your assistance in distributing the following information to businesses within your association.

The city has a local ordinance, Chapter 61, which regulates signs and outdoor advertising. Section 5:508 of this code (see below) states the following signs are prohibited:

· Exterior banners, pennants, spinners and streamers.

· Portable exterior signs.

· Signs erected in the public right- of- way (with exceptions for portable “open house” signs).

Starting April 1, 2010 the Community Standards Unit and Planning Division will be contacting businesses that have signs violating the regulations. City enforcement personnel will first provide the manager or an employee of the business with a written notice to remove the illegal sign within 24 hours. If the prohibited sign is not removed within 24 hours, city staff will pursue enforcement per Section 5:518 of Chapter 61 (see below) by removing the prohibited sign and issuing a violation citation. Please note that violation of this code is a misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $100-$500. Illegal signs in the public right-of-way may be removed and destroyed without notice to the business.

If you have questions regarding signs on private property, please contact Chris Cheng at 734-794-6000 x 42616 or at . If you have questions regarding signs in the public right-of-way, please contact Mike Rankin at 734 794-6942 x49421 or at .

Wendy Rampson, AICP
Planning Manager
City of Ann Arbor Community Services
(734) 794-6000 ext 42606


City of Ann Arbor: Chapter 61, Signs and Outdoor Advertising (excerpts)

Section 5:508

The following signs are prohibited, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Chapter.

(1) Signs which incorporate in any manner or are illuminated by any flashing or moving lights other than for conveyance of noncommercial information which requires periodic change. This section does not prohibit barber poles which meet the other requirements of this Chapter.

(2) Exterior banners, pennants, spinners and streamers, other than a banner or pennant used as a permitted sign under Section 5:502.

(3) Exterior string lights used in connection with a commercial premises, other than holiday decorations.

(4) Any sign which has any visible motion other than permitted flags or banners and other than for the conveyance of noncommercial information requiring periodic change.

(5) Any sign which is structurally or electrically unsafe.

(6) Any sign erected on a tree or utility pole except signs of any political subdivision of this state.

(7) Any business sign or sign structure now or hereafter existing which no longer advertises a bona fide business conducted or a product sold.

(8) Portable Signs. Except as provided in Section 5:507(4), any freestanding exterior sign not permanently anchored or secured to either a building or the ground.

(9) Any sign on a motor vehicle or trailer which is parked in front of a business for the purpose of advertising a business or product or service of a business located on the premises where such vehicle is parked.

(10) Any sign on a motor vehicle or trailer which projects more than 6 inches from the surface of such a vehicle when it is parked at a location visible from a public street.

(11) Any sign structure or frame no longer containing a sign.

(12) Any sign erected on the public right-of-way, except for signs of a political subdivision of this state, and except for portable “open house” signs to the extent they are permitted by Section 5:507(4) and except for political signs to the extent they are permitted by Section 5:506. The City may remove and destroy or otherwise dispose of, without notice to any person, any sign which is erected on the public right-of-way in violation of this subsection.

Section 5:518

It shall be unlawful for any person to erect, construct, maintain, enlarge, alter, move or convert any sign in the City of Ann Arbor, or cause or permit the same to be done, contrary to or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction of any such violation shall be punishable with a fine of not more than $500.00 and not less than $100.00. Any sign constituting an immediate hazard to health and safety shall be deemed a nuisance and may be removed by the administrator at the expense of the owner of the sign and assessed under the provisions of section 1:292 of this Code; and provided, further, that except for those signs which may be removed and destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the city in accordance with section 5:508(12), any sign unlawfully erected, altered or maintained may be removed by the administrator at the expense of the sign owner and assessed under the provisions of section 1:292 of this Code after said sign owner has been ordered in writing to remove said sign by the administrator and has refused to do so without providing justification for so refusing at a hearing to be held by the administrator. The City Attorney may apply to a court of appropriate jurisdiction for an order requiring the removal of a sign in violation of this chapter.


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