San Mateo Law Library
City of San Mateo Municipal Code.

25.06.060 SIGNS ALLOWED WITHOUT PERMIT (EXEMPT SIGNS).

(a) Exempt Signs. The following signs are exempt from the permit and fee requirements of this Title, but are subject to the other restrictions set forth in this Title. Signs allowed by this Section shall not be counted against the signage allowed in Section 25.06.070, but may not be added to that signage to create a larger sign.

(1) Sign Size per Zoning District. Signs up to 10 square feet in R1 and R2 districts and 16 square feet in all other districts. No sign may be larger than six square feet, except as allowed under flags and pennants below.

(2) Window Signs. In addition to signs authorized by Section 25.06.070, each residential unit, nonresidential use or individual business may have the window signs listed below. The square footage may not be combined with that allowed for other residential units, nonresidential use or businesses to exceed the allowed square feet per residential unit, nonresidential use or per business or to create larger signs. Window signs shall not cover more than 25% of the window area of any window within a building.

(A) Signs up to four square feet in size.

(B) Ground floor retail businesses may have 50 square feet of window signs per street frontage.

(3) Address Signs. In addition to signs authorized by Section 25.06.070, each building, unit, or property with an address may place a sign not to exceed one square foot limited to the street address for the building, unit, or property.

(4) Parking Lots and Garages. Signs in parking lots and garages that direct vehicle traffic or state parking limitations.

(5) Flags and Pennants. Two flags or any number of pennants totaling 30 square feet in addition to the square footage allowed by Section 25.06.070.

(6) Law. Signs required by law. The sign area of signs permitted under this subsection shall not be counted against any sign area limit provided for in this Title.

(7) Construction Signs.

(A) The following construction signs are allowed on a zoning plot:

(i) For zoning plots less than one acre in size, one sign is allowed per street frontage with a total maximum area of 32 square feet.

(ii) For zoning plots one acre in size or more, one sign is allowed per lot frontage with a total maximum area of 64 square feet.

(B) Limitations. Construction signs on each zoning plot are subject to the following limitations:

(i) Maximum Height. Eight feet in height, measured at grade, sidewalk or street, whichever is lower.

(ii) Permissible Display Time. Beginning with the grant of a building permit and ending with the earlier of notice of completion or certificate of occupancy for the subject development, or their functional equivalent.

(iii) Private Property. If attached to a fence surrounding the zoning plot, the sign should be located on private property and not encroach into the public right-of-way.

(iv) Abandoned Construction Signs. Construction signs that remain following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy shall be deemed abandoned and may be abated by the City as a public nuisance.

(8) Change in Sign Copy. Changes in sign copy to an existing permitted and legally erected sign without any accompanying change in square footage, height, and sign structure are exempt from the permit and fee requirements of this title, provided that the change in sign copy complies with this Title.

(9) Legal Nonconforming Signs. Any on-premises advertising display, as that term is defined in Business and Professions Code Section 5490 et seq., which lawfully exists on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this Title, but which is not authorized by this Title, is a legal nonconforming sign, and may continue as an exception to this Title, and to any zoning provisions of this Code. However, a legal nonconforming sign shall be removed or brought into conformance with the provisions of this Title if such sign meets any of the criteria set forth in Business and Professions Code Section 5497. For the purposes of applying Business and Professions Code Section 5497, an advertising display shall be considered "abandoned" if it has not displayed any message (either commercial or noncommercial) for a period of 90 consecutive days.

(b) Limitations. Exempt signs on each zoning plot are subject to the following limitations:

(1) Freestanding signs shall not exceed the maximum height of six feet above grade or the adjacent street or sidewalk whichever is lower.

(2) Individual signs shall not exceed six square feet, except as allowed for flags and pennants.

(3) In a Residential Zoning District, signs shall be limited to face, pennants, flags, window and freestanding signs.

(4) Signs may not be internally illuminated.