Sign


NOTICE: Local Law 28 of 2019: Temporary Business Accessory Signs Program


Civil Penalties

As of February 9, 2019, DOB has not imposed civil penalties for Work Without a Permit violations for business signs that neither exceed 150 square feet in area nor 1,200 pounds in weight. Businesses that received these violations on or after December 28, 2017 and have not paid the penalties, may submit a waiver request to DOB by submitting an L2 Form at a DOB Borough office. Read additional information.


Moratorium on the Issuance of Violations

From February 9, 2019, through February 9, 2021, DOB will not issue violations for business signs that existed on or before February 9, 2019, unless the sign is not eligible for the moratorium for reasons such as being an imminent threat to public health or safety. Respondents must continue appear before OATH for hearings related to all violations issued.


Reduction in Permit Filing Fees

From August 7, 2019 through February 9, 2020, DOB will waive 75% of the filing fees for sign permits for respondents who received a DOB sign violation if (1) the summons or violation was for a business sign; and (2) the penalty imposed as a result of a hearing held at OATH’s Hearings Division (formerly ECB) was entered as a judgment in court; and (3) the judgment amount was paid between June 1, 2006, and February 9, 2019. Read additional information.

NOTE: DOB will continue responding to 311 complaints about signs to determine whether the business sign is eligible for this moratorium.


As of August 2019:

  • The Department of Finance (DOF) has established a 6-month program to allow businesses to resolve outstanding judgments for business storefront sign violations. Get more information on DOF’s sign amnesty program at www.nyc.gov/awningamnesty2019.

  • DOB has established a 6-month program to provide technical assistance to businesses that received sign violations between June 1, 2006 and February 9, 2019 and paid applicable penalties. In-person assistance is available at the DOB’s weekly Customer Service Night in each borough office.

  • DOB, DOF and the Department of Small Business Services will work together to ensure businesses are aware of applicable business sign laws and regulations and to publicize the aforementioned temporary programs.


Taskforce

A task force will be convened for the purpose of exploring issues related to business storefront sign regulations in the New York City Construction Codes and the New York City Zoning Resolution.


Additional Resources


The City’s sign regulations and zoning laws reduce visual clutter and protect people from dangerously installed signs. Signs must comply with regulations outlined in the NYC Construction Codes, the NYC Zoning Resolution and the Rules of the City of New York. Failure to comply may result in the issuance of violations and the assessing of fines.

The Sign Enforcement Unit regulates outdoor signage on buildings and premises in New York City. The Unit also administers the Outdoor Advertising Registration program.


Is it a Sign?

The definitions of sign in the Zoning Resolution and Construction Code are very broad and include most displays:

  • Per ZR §12-10, a sign is defined in relevant part as: any writing (including letter, word, or numeral), pictorial representation (including illustration or decoration), emblem (including device, symbol, or trademark), flag, (including banner or pennant), or any other figure of similar character, that: (a) is a structure or any part thereof, or is attached to, painted on, or in any other manner represented on a #building or other structure#; (b) is used to announce, direct attention to, or advertise; and (c) is visible from outside a #building#.

  • Per BC H103, a sign is defined in relevant part as: any letter, figure, character, mark, plane, point, marquee sign, design, poster, pictorial, picture, stroke, stripe, line, trademark, reading matter or illuminated service, which shall be constructed, placed, attached, painted, erected, fastened or manufactured in any manner whatsoever, so that the same shall be used for the attraction of the public to any place, subject, person, firm, corporation, public performance, article, machine or merchandise, whatsoever, which is displayed in any manner outdoors. Every sign shall be classified and conform to the requirements of that classification as set forth in this chapter.


Types of Signs

  • Accessory Sign
    A sign that directs attention to a business at the sign’s location. These are often referred to as business or on-premises signs.

  • Advertising Sign
    A sign that directs attention to goods or services at a location other than the premises where the sign is located. Advertising signs are only permitted in certain zoning districts throughout the City.

  • Construction Sign
    A sign that is required to be displayed at a premises during construction or demolition.

  • Non-commercial Sign
    A non-advertising sign that is neither an advertising sign nor an accessory sign.


Sign Regulations

The NYC Construction Code provides guidance on the safe installation of signs structures including when permits and licensed sign hangers are required. The NYC Construction Code also provides detailed information on required and prohibited construction and demolition signage.

The Zoning Resolution provides guidance on the location, size, height, projection and illumination of signs. The permissible use of a sign depends on the zoning district in which the sign is located. All signs are strictly limited in Residential districts and advertising signs are banned in most commercial districts.  There are also restrictions for signs within view of arterial highways (List of Arterial Highways) and public parks (List of Public Parks One-half Acre or Larger). 

Chapter 49 of the Rules of the City of New York contain specific regulations related to Articles 502 and 503 of the Construction Code including the Outdoor Advertising Registration Program and the installation and removal of specified signs.


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