Chapter 32.10 Legal Framework and Relationships


32.10.010 Short Title.

Title 32 of the Portland City Code is also referred to as the Sign Code.


32.10.020 Purpose.

These regulations balance the need to protect the public safety and welfare, the need for a well maintained and attractive community, and the need for adequate identification, communication and advertising. The regulations for signs and awnings have the following specific objectives:

A. To ensure that signs and awnings are designed, constructed, installed and maintained according to minimum standards to safeguard life, health, property and public welfare;

B. To allow and promote positive conditions for sign communication while at the same time avoiding nuisances to nearby properties;

C. To reflect and support the desired character and development patterns of the various zones, overlay zones, and plan districts and promote an attractive environment;

D. To allow for adequate and effective signs in commercial and industrial zones while preventing signs from dominating the appearance of the area; and

E. To ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech is protected.

The regulations allow for a variety of sign types and sizes for a site. The provisions do not ensure or provide for every property or business owner’s desired level of visibility for the signs. The sign standards are intended to allow signs to have adequate visibility from streets and rights-of-way that abut a site, but not necessarily to streets and rights-of-way farther away.


32.10.030 Where These Regulations Apply.

A. General. The requirements of this Title apply to all signs, sign structures, awnings, and strobe lights located within the City of Portland, except as specified in Subsection B., below.

B. Clarification for rights-of-way.

1. Signs within public rights-of-way are regulated by Title 17, Public Improvements, and not by Title 32, except in the following situations where both Titles apply:

a. Signs, sign structures, and awnings that extend from private property over rights-of-way; and

b. Portable signs.

2. Signs and sign structures located on streets within the boundary of Portland International Airport, as shown on Maps 1-5, are not regulated by Title 32.


32.10.040 Hierarchy of Regulations.

A. Conflicts within Chapters 32.30 through 32.38. In general, an area with base zoning, overlay zoning, or in a plan district is subject to all of the sign regulations of each. When the regulations conflict, unless specifically indicated otherwise, the regulations for a plan district supersede regulations for an overlay zone and the regulations for an overlay zone supersede regulations for base zones. The regulations for plan districts and overlay zones also supersede conflicting regulations for a specific use or development unless specifically stated otherwise.

Where there is a conflict between regulations for a specific use or development and the base zone regulations, the specific use or development regulations supersede the base zone regulations.

B. Other conflicts. Where there is a conflict between a land use regulation and a structural regulation, or other conflicts not otherwise addressed by this section, the most restrictive applies.

C. Relationship to Titles 24 and 26. Title 32 contains objective construction standards that apply to signs, sign structures, and awnings. Title 24, Building Regulations, adopts the Oregon Structural Specialty Code and Title 26, Electrical Regulations, adopts the Oregon Electrical Specialty Code, respectively, by reference. In situations where an electrical standard is used in both Titles 32 and 26, standards specific to signs and awnings contained in Title 32 supersede those in Title 26. In situations where other construction standards are used in both Titles 32 and 24, standards specific to signs, sign structures, and awnings contained in Title 32 supersede those in Title 24.

D. Relationship to Title 33. Title 32 contains the objective land use standards and definitions that apply to signs and awnings. Signs being constructed as part of a larger development project may be subject to additional standards and discretionary reviews in Title 33. Where a discretionary land use review is required, the review procedures and criteria are contained in Title 33, Planning and Zoning, except as follows:

1. Sign adjustments. Approval criteria for sign adjustments are in Title 32.

2. Nonconforming signs. Approval criteria for the Determination of Nonconforming Sign Status Review are in Title 32.

E. Relationship to other City, Regional, State and Federal regulations.

1. Compliance required. In addition to the requirements of the Sign Code, signs must comply with all other applicable City, regional, state, and federal regulations. Compliance with Title 32 does not in any way imply, either directly or indirectly, compliance with any other law. Where the provisions of this Title conflict with those set forth in other regulations under the City Code or ordinance, the more restrictive will control.

2. References to other regulations. References in the sign code to other City, regional, state, or federal regulations do not constitute a complete list of such regulations. These references do not imply any responsibility by the City for enforcement of regional, state, or federal regulations.

3. Current versions and citations. All references to other City, regional, state, or federal regulations in the sign code refer to the most current version and citation for those regulations, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Where the referenced regulations have been repealed, sign code requirements for compliance are no longer in effect.


32.10.050 Relationship to Approved Land Use Reviews.

(Amended by Ordinance No. 185915, effective May 1, 2013.) The sign-related provisions of any approved land use review that applies to the site supersede the standards of this code.  Examples of land use reviews include Master Plans, Impact Mitigation Plans, Conditional Uses, Adjustments, Design and Historic Resource Reviews.


32.10.060 Amendments to this Code.

A. General. Amendments to regulations of this Title must be enacted through the procedures required under Title 1, Administration except as described under Subsection B, below.

B. Exception for land use regulations. Amendments to provisions contained in Chapters 32.10 through 32.38 must follow the procedure required under state law as described in Chapter 33.835, Goal, Policy, and Regulation Amendments.


32.10.070 Severability.

If any word, sentence, section, chapter or any other provision or portion of this Title or rules adopted hereunder is invalidated by any court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining words, sentences, sections, chapters, provisions, or portions will not be affected and will continue in full force and effect.