What You Need to Know About the City’s New Sign Ordinance

In July 2017, the City of San Antonio put into effect a new sign ordinance to comply with the first amendment and limit the number of “bandit” signs throughout the city. This new ordinance will require anyone who puts out temporary signs in the city’s right-of-way to obtain a permit. 

Why did it change?

Updating the sign code became a necessity last year when the Supreme Court ruled in Reid vs. Gilbert, AZ. The court ruled that a municipality could not regulate signage based on content because it violated the first amendment. This means that a city cannot treat “We Buy Junk Cars” signs any differently than a REALTOR® open house sign. For the past few decades, the City of San Antonio’s sign ordinance has done just that, treating signs differently based on content.

Additionally, many temporary signs, which should have been subject to the existing ordinance limiting their use, were allowed without enforcement. This meant that REALTORS® were not obtaining $50 permits for every temporary off premise sign even though the code said they should.

How will it work?

Moving forward to today, the new sign code requires a permit to place a temporary sign in the city’s right of way. The 12-month permit is $50. Additionally, each sign must have a $5 sticker affixed to the sign. These stickers are good for the entire twelve months.

If a REALTOR® wants to do an open house with ten temporary signs in the City’s right of way, they would obtain a valid permit for $50 and $5 for each sign. Those signs will be good for 12-months and can be used at various properties throughout that time period. There are a number of rules about where and when those signs can be placed and anyone using temporary signs should consult the ordinance for specifics.

Additional Information

Although many rules around signage are changing, there have been no substantive changes to placing a “For Sale/Rent” sign in the front yard of a property.

There is no permit required to do an open house. The permit is only necessary for temporary signage off-premise.

Although the new sign code will be a change for REALTORS®, the new structure is a tremendous improvement over the previous sign code. Under the old code, a REALTOR® would have been required to obtain a separate permit for each event.

Contact Information

To inquire about getting a permit or sticker, contact the City of San Antonio Development Services Department at 210-207-1111.

For other questions about the new sign code, please contact justin@sabor.com or 210-593-1200.

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