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Update to the Oakland Advertising Signs Ordinance (Billboards)

The City of Oakland is considering amending the existing Advertising Signs Ordinance to permit new or relocated Advertising Signs in limited areas adjacent to Interstates 80, 580, and 880

Caltrans Regulations

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) regulates Advertising Signs that are visible from highways and freeways in accordance with the Federal Highway Beautification Act and the California Outdoor Advertising Act (ODA).

The Outdoor Advertising Act and Regulations require:

  • 500 foot separation from another permitted billboard on the same side of the freeway
  • Electronic billboards must be at least 1,000 feet from another permitted electronic billboard
  • Maximum height of the advertising display area is 25 feet and maximum length is 60 feet and does not exceed 1,200 square feet in size

Caltrans Licenses and Permits

Caltrans requires that applicants obtain a license to operate an outdoor advertising display and a permit for a specific location(s) of proposed advertising signs. Click here for Caltrans website with more information.

Proposed Amendments to Oakland Municipal Code

Oakland is considering amending certain parts of Titles 5, 14 and 17 of the Oakland Municipal Code (OMC) to:

1) Establish procedures and criteria related to the solicitation for and selection of proposals for new or relocated Advertising Signs on City-owned or leased property, including City-owned Rights-of-Way via a Request for Proposals process in Title 5

2) Establish requirements for the location, design, construction, and operation of Advertising Signs in Title 14

3) Add Real Estate Agreement to the Planning Code (Title 17) as a type of legislatively approved agreement for City Council consideration for new or relocated Advertising Signs on City-owned property, private property leased by the City, and City-owned Rights-of-Way.

Below are links to specific Chapters in Titles 14 and 17 of the OMC as they currently relate to Advertising Signs.

Summary of Proposed OMC Amendments: Title 5 - Business Tax, Permits, and Regulations

  • New Chapter entitled, Advertising Signs Selection Process For City-owned land, City-leased land, and City-owned Rights-of-Way
  • Establishes the selection process for the approval of new or relocated Advertising Signs on City-owned or leased property, including City rights-of-way
  • Includes procedures for the City’s issuance of RFPs, evaluation and selection of proposals, and approval of such Advertising Signs via execution of either of the following: Real Estate Agreement (and lease if on private property), Franchise Agreement, or Relocation Agreement between the City and applicant.

Summary of Proposed OMC Amendments: Title 14 - Signs

  • Title 14 would be amended in nearly its entirety with its main purpose to establish requirements for the location, design, construction, and operation of Advertising Signs. Examples of requirements may include that Advertising Signs:
    • Are only located in areas zoned industrial or commercial
    • Are located within 500 feet of the freeway Right-of-Way
    • Be no taller than 75 feet in height measured from finished grade of the freeway travel lane closest to the uppermost point of the Advertising Sign
Maximum Height Minimum Clearance Brightness Levels (Digital Only)

No more than 75' in height inclusive of supporting structures, measured from finished grade of the freeway travel lane closest to the sign to its uppermost point

Projecting over a freeway: Minimum 40' between the lowest point of the sign and the finished grade of the freeway

No more than 0.3 foot candles above ambient light, as measured using a foot candle meter at a pre-set distance

Projecting over pedestrian path: Minimum 20' between the lowest point of the sign and the path of travel grade

Measure Distance criteria:

  • 150' for 12'x25' face size
  • 200' for 10'6"x36' face size
  • 250' for 14'x48' face size
  • 350' for 20'x60' or 25'x'48' face size

Summary of Proposed OMC Amendments: Title 17 - Planning

  • Amendment to Section 17.104.060 - General Limitations on Advertising Signs, would add Real Estate Agreement as a type of legislatively approved agreement for City Council consideration for new or relocated Advertising Signs on City-owned property, private property leased by the City, and City-owned Rights-of-Way.
  • The City Council would only consider those applications submitted in response to a Request for Proposal issued by the City and that contain one or more of the following types of legislative agreements: Real Estate Agreement, Franchise Agreement, and/or Relocation Agreement

Public Meetings

On December 15, 2020, the City Council passed Resolution No. 88463 directing the Planning Commission under Planning Code Section 17.144.030(b) to: (a) initiate a process to consider amendments to Section 17.104.060 of the Planning Code (Oakland Advertising Signs Ordinance) and Section 14.04.270 of the Municipal Code (Oakland Sign Code) to amend the mechanisms by which the City may approve the installation and operation of new Advertising Signs via Development Agreements in very limited geographic areas in the City, to the extent legally permissible, and (b) upon the conclusion of such process, recommend specific text amendments to the Planning and Municipal Codes for the City Administrator to incorporate into a future ordinance. City Council meeting agenda and staff reports are available online as well as the Planning Commission and its committees.

Billboard Economic Development Coalition

In response to staff's recommended proposed amendments presented to Planning Commission on October 19, 2022, the Oakland Planning Commission received and entered into the public record an alternative proposal to amend parts of Titles 5, 14, and 17. The Billboard Economic Development Coalition, a consortium of neighborhood-serving nonprofits and organizations, ethnic chambers of commerce, and small, local businesses and property owners, submitted its alternative proposal prior to the public hearing. The Planning Commission's recommended amendments are only to OMC 17.104.060 and can be viewed here.

About

The City of Oakland's Planning Code currently restricts new Advertising Signs on private property; however, staff is considering amendments to Titles 5, 14, and 17 of the Oakland Municipal Code (OMC) that would allow for Advertising Signs in areas zoned Industrial or Commercial.

For specific questions, please email dfindley@oaklandca.gov.

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