These controls apply to non-accessory signs in all areas of the City, with special restrictions regulating size, height, illumination, distances from residences, spacing, prohibition, and conditions for obtaining permits. These controls shall supplement all provisions of this Chapter 14-900.
- Spacing Requirements.
In all areas of the City, outdoor advertising signs and non-accessory signs shall not be permitted within 500 ft. of any other outdoor advertising sign. This spacing requirement shall not apply to on-premise or accessory signs, non-commercial signs, and highway directional signs.
- Distances from Residential District Property.
No sign support structure or sign face shall be erected within 300 ft. of any residentially-zoned property.
- Area Regulations.
- The maximum sign area of any outdoor advertising sign is:
- For frontages along a street or right-of-way that is less than 60 ft. wide, 1,000 sq. ft. per sign face.
- For frontages along a street or right-of-way that are 60 ft. wide or more, 1,500 sq. ft. per sign face.
- Special Effects Elements that extend beyond the top and side edges of the sign face are permitted provided such elements do not extend more than six feet from the top edge and no more than three feet from the side edges. Special effects elements may not extend below the bottom edge of the sign face. Those portions of such special effects elements that extend beyond the edges of the sign face shall be considered as embellishments whose total area may not exceed 288 square feet. A sign face and any extended elements may include three-dimensional features, provided such features do not extend more than 5 feet from the plane of the sign face. Special Effects Elements may not be digital.
- The maximum sign area of any outdoor advertising sign is:
- Height Regulations.
- The bottom edge of any outdoor advertising sign shall not be located more than 25 ft. above the road surface from which the advertising message is intended to be principally viewed and the sign shall not extend more than 20 ft. in height above its bottom edge, except as provided in subsection (5)(d).
- When an outdoor advertising sign is to be erected in a location within 150 ft. of two or more street, road, highway, or bridge surfaces, the maximum height of an outdoor advertising sign shall be measured from the surface with the lowest grade elevation.
- Where other provisions of The Philadelphia Code are more restrictive than this Chapter 14-900 in terms of height regulations, the more restrictive height regulations shall apply for non-accessory signs whether the signs are freestanding or roof signs.
- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code, if a noise barrier or permanent road sign erected by a governmental entity after a sign has been erected diminishes the visibility of the sign from the road surface from which the sign is intended to be principally viewed, then the height of the sign may be increased to the minimum height required to achieve the same degree of visibility from such road surface that the sign had prior to the erection of the noise barrier or permanent road sign. For purposes of this provision, a "noise barrier" is a standalone wall or similar structure designed for outdoor noise mitigation, whether denominated as a sound wall, sound berm, sound barrier, noise-attenuation barrier, acoustical barrier, or otherwise.
- Sign Face Regulations.
No more than two sign faces or advertising messages shall be permitted on any one lot, and no more than one sign support structure shall be permitted on any lot.
- Illuminated, Flashing, and Revolving Signs.
- Signs, other than digital signs, may be illuminated, but the illumination shall be focused upon the sign itself, so as to prevent glare upon the surrounding areas.
- Flashing signs, signs with intermittent illumination, or signs with mechanically or electronically changing messages shall not be erected within 500 ft. of any Residential district, nor face any Residential district within 1,000 ft. of the sign.
- Signs that revolve shall require approval from the Zoning Board through the special exception process in § 14-303(7).
- Digital Billboards.
- Digital signs shall not be erected or converted from non-digital to digital within 500 ft. of any residentially zoned district, nor face any residentially zoned district within 1,000 ft. of the sign.
- Digital Illumination Standards; Automatic Dimming.
During daylight hours luminance of a digital billboard shall be no greater than 6,500 nits. At all other times, luminance of a digital billboard shall be no greater than 450 nits. In addition, digital billboards shall not operate at brightness levels of more than 0.3 foot candles above ambient light, as measured using a foot candle meter at the following preset distances:
Nominal Face Size Distance to be Measured From 12' x 25' 150' 10'6" x 36' 200' 14' x 48' 250' 20' x 60' 350'
Automatic dimming is required to keep luminance within permitted levels at all times.
All motion is prohibited on digital displays. Only static text and graphics shall be permitted. A display change between messages shall not constitute motion. Holographic or three-dimensional projections are prohibited. The digital display shall contain a default mechanism that will freeze the sign in one position or show a black blank screen if a malfunction occurs.
The duration of each display shall be no less than eight (8) seconds.
- Digital Sign Conversions.
Non-accessory signs may not be converted to digital unless they are located within 660 feet of I-95 or I-76; are intended to be principally viewed from one of those roadways; and meet all of the other requirements of this code.
Unless expressly provided to the contrary, the provisions of this subsection (8) (Digital Billboards):
- Shall not apply in the Market East Advertising District described in § 14-906.
- Shall be considered safety regulations applicable to all signs, regardless whether they pre-date or post-date the addition of this subsection (8) to the Code.
- Permitted Areas.
Outdoor advertising signs and non-accessory signs shall be permitted:
- Within the I-2, Medium Industrial district, except within the area bounded by the Delaware Expressway, the Schuylkill Expressway, and Darien Street (extended);
- Within the I-3, Heavy Industrial district; and
- Within the I-P, Port Industrial district.
- Prohibited Areas.
Outdoor advertising signs and non-accessory signs shall be prohibited:
- Within 660 ft. of all the bridges over the Schuylkill River from the Girard Point Bridge northwestwardly to the Belmont Avenue Bridge;
- Within 660 ft. of all ingress and/or egress ramps of the Delaware expressway (I-95), from the Bucks County Line to the Delaware County Line, and the Schuylkill expressway (I-76), between the Montgomery County Line and the Walt Whitman Bridge;
- Within 660 ft. of Benjamin Franklin Parkway as defined by the Streets Department;
- Between 23rd Street and the Schuylkill River from the south side of Race Street to Chestnut Street;
- Between 24th Street and the Schuylkill River from Chestnut Street to South Street;
- East of 6th Street from South Street to the south side of Race Street;
- Between 6th Street and Christopher Columbus Boulevard from South Street to Washington Avenue;
- Within 660 ft. of the outward edge of the right-of-way lines as defined by the Department of Streets, of the Delaware expressway between Washington Avenue and Oregon Avenue;
- Within 660 ft. of all the bridges over the Delaware River from the Walt Whitman Bridge to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge;
- Within 660 ft. of the outward edge of the right-of-way lines as defined by the Department of Streets, of Woodhaven Road;
- Within 660 ft. of the outward edge of the right-of-way lines as defined by the Department of Streets, of the Roosevelt Boulevard;
- Within any area of the City designated as a local or national Historic District;
- Within 660 ft. of the outward edge of any park under the jurisdiction of DPR, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or the National Park Service;
- Within 660 ft. of any park, playground, recreation center, play lot, or other recreational facility under the jurisdiction of DPR; and
- Within 660 ft. of any public or private pre-school, elementary, middle, or high school.
- Regulations Applicable to the I-95 Acquisition Corridor.
- For purposes of this § 14-905(11), the "I-95 Acquisition Corridor" shall include all areas within 200 feet of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) right-of-way (as that right-of-way may change from time to time) from Rhawn Street to Arch Street.
- A structure or outdoor advertising sign that is a lawful use located within the I-95 Acquisition Corridor shall be permitted if relocated within the I-95 Acquisition Corridor, notwithstanding any contrary provisions of this Zoning Code, provided all of the following apply:
- The owner or tenant of the structure or outdoor advertising sign has received a Declaration of Taking, a Notice of Acquisition or a Notice of Relocation Eligibility from PennDOT or its agent with respect to such structure or outdoor advertising sign, or has moved its structure or outdoor advertising sign as a result of receiving one of the aforesaid notices;
- The owner or tenant files an Application for Relocation, in a form required by L&I, within three years after receiving such Declaration of Taking, Notice of Acquisition or Notice of Relocation Eligibility or has moved its structure or outdoor advertising sign as a result of receiving one of the aforesaid notices;
- The proposed new location of the structure or outdoor advertising sign is within the I-95 Acquisition Corridor and is within 350 feet of the existing location of the structure or outdoor advertising sign;
- The proposed new location of the structure or outdoor advertising sign is zoned industrial or commercial;
- The dimensions and height of the relocated structure or outdoor advertising sign do not exceed the dimensions and height of the existing structure or sign at the time of the filing of the Application for Relocation;
- The size of the face of the relocated outdoor advertising sign is not greater than 1,200 square feet with a maximum height of 30 feet and a maximum length of 60 feet inclusive of any border of trim but excluding the base or apron, supports or other structural members. The area shall be measured by the smallest square, rectangle, triangle, circle or combination thereof which will encompass the entire sign;
- Where the relocated outdoor advertising sign exceeds 600 square feet in area, it is not double-faced (abutting and facing the same direction);
- The distance between the relocated structure or outdoor advertising sign and any residentially-zoned property is not less than that required by any other applicable provision of this Zoning Code at the time of the filing of the Application for Relocation; except where the distance between a legally existing structure or outdoor advertising sign and any residentially-zoned property is less than the distance required by this Zoning Code and the proposed new location does not meet the required distance from any residentially-zoned property, the relocated structure or outdoor advertising sign shall be at least the same distance from any residentially-zoned property as the existing structure or outdoor advertising sign;
- The relocated outdoor advertising sign is not located within 500 feet of any other outdoor advertising sign as measured along the nearest edge of the pavement between points directly opposite the outdoor advertising signs along the same side of the traveled way;
- The relocated outdoor advertising sign does not include lights which are of such intensity or brilliance as to cause glare or impair the vision of a driver of any vehicle, interfere with any driver's operation of a motor vehicle, or are not effectively shielded so as to prevent beams or rays of light from being directed at any portion of the traveled way of I-95;
- The relocated outdoor advertising sign is not illuminated such that it interferes with the effectiveness of or obscures an official traffic sign, device or signal;
- The relocated outdoor advertising sign is consistent with all other provisions relating to lighting of signs along State highways;
- The relocated outdoor advertising sign is not a non-accessory changeable electronic variable message sign; and
- The owner or tenant has not previously relocated the structure or outdoor advertising sign pursuant to the provisions of this § 14-905(11).
- None of the provisions of this § 14-905(11) shall have any impact upon the duty of an owner or tenant to move its structure or outdoor advertising sign when given notice to vacate by PennDOT.
- Sign permits shall be processed through the Zoning Permit process in § 14-303(6).
- For each non-accessory sign erected or converted to digital in conformance with these provisions, two existing lawful, non-accessory signs encompassing equal or greater sign area, other than a sign located in the Market Street East Advertising District, as defined in § 14-906, shall be removed; provided that this requirement shall not apply to the conversion to digital of a sign that, on June 1, 2015, lawfully could have been converted to digital without removal of an existing sign but for a then-existing lease or agreement which precluded the owner or future owner from effecting such a conversion; no more than ten signs owned by any sign company or related sign companies may be converted under this proviso.
- The application to erect an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign must specify the size and the location of the sign(s) to be removed. Sufficient proof of the physical existence of the sign(s) to be removed shall be supplied to the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I). Required proof may be in the form of permits and/or photographs of the existing sign(s).
- The application to erect an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign must also be accompanied by a written authorization from the owner of the property where the sign(s) to be removed are located authorizing the applicant to remove those sign(s) and acknowledging that the right to maintain an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign is being forfeited through the filing of the application and the issuance of the permit for the erection of the new sign.
- No permit for the erection of an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign shall be issued prior to actual removal of the sign(s) required to be removed as provided in subsections (a), (b), and (c) above.
- No permit for the erection of an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign shall be issued if there is any outstanding violation, for which all legal appeals have been exhausted, of The Philadelphia Code or regulations adopted pursuant to the Code, relating to the premises upon which the outdoor advertising sign or non-accessory sign is to be erected or maintained.
- No permit for the erection of an outdoor advertising or non-accessory sign shall be issued if the owner of the premises upon which the outdoor advertising sign or non-accessory sign is to be erected or maintained is delinquent in the payment of any City or School District taxes, charges, fees, rents, or claims, unless the owner has entered into an agreement to pay any the delinquency and is abiding by the terms of the agreement.
- Signs and Their Supporting Structures.
- The supporting structures for non-accessory signs shall conform to the definition of a structure as set forth in Chapter 14-200, shall be considered as structures and shall conform to all the requirements regarding structures contained in this Chapter 14-900. However, Tables 14-602-1 through 14-602-4 shall not apply to outdoor advertising signs and their structures and therefore these types of signs may not be extended or reconstructed pursuant to reconstruction provisions otherwise applicable to Residential districts.
- Non-accessory signs shall be considered as the main use of a property and as a main structure and not as an accessory or ancillary use; provided that, in the Market Street East Advertising District, as defined in § 14-906, non-accessory signs, where permitted, shall be allowed as an additional main use.
- Nuisance, Unlawful, and Prohibited Signs.
- Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit L&I from removing a sign at any time without compensation that has been determined to be a public nuisance or unlawfully in existence under any other provision of The Philadelphia Code.
- A prohibited sign shall be maintained in good condition, but it shall not be structurally altered so as to enlarge or extend the area or height of the sign. However, a prohibited sign shall not be reconstructed if for any reason it becomes necessary to replace the entire sign, including the sign face, the frame and any supporting mechanism, but excluding the foundation.
- Sign Requirements for Municipal Property.
The sign requirements of this subsection (15) are intended to balance the public interest in maintaining a safe and attractive City; the interests of businesses and other entities in promoting their products, services and ideas; and the interests of the City and other governmental bodies in communicating public service and emergency messages on a city-wide basis through an integrated network of signage on municipal property.
The provisions of this subsection (15) apply to all municipal property, defined as any land, building, or structure (i) that is owned by the City; or (ii) in which the City possesses rights sufficient to permit it to authorize the placement of a non-accessory sign on such land, building, or structure for six months or more.
- Non-Accessory Signs on Municipal Property.
No prohibition or regulation of non-accessory signs set forth in this Title shall apply to municipal property. In the event of any conflict between any provision of this subsection (15) and any other provision of this Zoning Code, the provisions of this subsection (15) shall control.
The following requirements shall apply to any sign located on municipal property.
- Maximum Size.
- Maximum Height.
- Sign Faces.
- Prohibited Locations.
- Maximum Size.
- Requirements for Digital Signs on Municipal Property.
In addition to the requirements set forth in subsection (15)(d), the following requirements shall apply to digital signs on municipal property.
- The sign shall be capable of receiving and transmitting both programmed and real-time digital images and messages and shall be operated as a changing image sign;
- The sign shall be integrated into the City's emergency response network and integrated with other digital signs on municipal property so as to enable the City to interrupt and override, on either a City-wide or localized basis, any regularly programmed messaging in order to communicate City emergency information (or emergency information from a federal, state, or other governmental unit);
- The City shall be entitled to: (i) a percentage of the regularly scheduled programmable time for digital signs on municipal property; (ii) other available programmable time (or a portion thereof) when the operator of the integrated network of such signs otherwise has no advertising commitments; and (iii) the emergency information override and broadcast rights described in subsection (e)(2) above; and
- The operator of the integrated network of digital signs on municipal property has entered into a written agreement with the City that sets forth the operation requirements of such signs and network, including but not limited to, requirements regulating sign design, light intensity, mitigating light pollution, energy conservation, and similar environmental and public health and safety concerns, which agreement shall be subject to the approval of City Council when required under Section 8-201 of the Charter (relating to concessions) or any other section of the Charter.
- The Planning Commission shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary and appropriate to implement the provisions of this subsection (15).
- The Director of Finance is authorized (i) to create a separate fund, held by the City of Philadelphia, and to deposit into such fund any revenue collected by the City with respect to advertising signs erected on municipal property and (ii) to provide for the disposition of such funds to the School District of Philadelphia.
- State Road.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Title to the contrary, one (1) free-standing, single-faced non-accessory outdoor advertising sign, mounted to a single support structure, shall be permitted within the area generally bounded by State Road, the Delaware Expressway (I-95), and Ashburner Street, and more particularly within the area rezoned to I-2 Medium Industrial District by Bill No. 160275, provided all of the following are satisfied:
- The area of the sign face shall be no more than twelve hundred (1,200) square feet.
- The back of the sign face shall be constructed so as to conceal structural supports for the sign face.
- The height of the sign from ground grade to the top of the sign shall not exceed fifty-five feet (55'); nor shall the bottom of the sign face be more than twenty-five feet (25') above the road elevation of the nearest lane of I-95 measured at 90° angle from the single support for the sign structure.
- Internal illumination and digital electronic changeable messages shall be permitted.
- The sign face shall be oriented facing north on I-95 and thus advertising to southbound traffic.
- The sign shall be in compliance with the provisions of this Chapter 14-900, except that it need not be in compliance with § 14-905(2) (spacing requirements); § 14-905(4)(a) (area regulations); § 14-905(5)(a), (b), (c) (height regulations); § 14-905(10)(m), (n) (distance from park or recreational area); or § 14-905(12)(b)-(f) (permits).
- A lot on which a non-accessory outdoor advertising sign is erected pursuant to this subsection (16) shall not contain any structures or improvements other than those in place on March 31, 2016, and any improvements necessary for the erection and maintenance of the sign, and subdivision shall not be permitted so long as such sign remains on the lot.
- Magee Avenue.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Title to the contrary, one (1) free-standing, double-faced non-accessory outdoor advertising sign, mounted to a single support structure, shall be permitted within the area generally bounded by Magee Avenue (extended), the Delaware River, Unruh Avenue, and New State Road, provided all of the following are satisfied:
- The lot is zoned I-2 industrial, and abuts New State Road.
- The area of each sign face is no more than 1,200 square feet.
- The height of the sign from grade to the top of the sign does not exceed eighty-six feet (86').
- External illumination shall be permitted.
- Only static sign faces shall be permitted.
- The sign shall be in compliance with the provisions of this Chapter 14-900, except that it need not be in compliance with § 14-905(3) (300 feet of any residentially zoned property); § 14-905(4)(a) (area regulations); § 14-905(5)(a), (b), (c) (height regulations); § 14-905(10)(m), (n) (distance from park or recreational facility); § 14-905(10)(o) (within 660 feet of any school); and § 14-905(12)(b)-(f) (permits).