17-12-1000  Signs in business, commercial, downtown and manufacturing districts.
   17-12-1001 Applicability. The standards of this section apply in all B, C, M, DC, DX and DS districts.
   17-12-1002 Permanent Signs. Signs are allowed in B, C, M, DC, DX and DS zoning districts in accordance with the Table of Allowed Sign Types in Sec. 17-12-1002-F.
      17-12-1002-A Sign Types. Sign types are defined in Sec. 17-17-0200.
      17-12-1002-B Permitted Uses. Signs identified with a “P” are permitted by-right in the subject zoning district, subject to compliance with all other applicable standards of this Zoning Ordinance.
      17-12-1002-C Special Uses. Signs identified with an “S” may be allowed if reviewed and approved in accordance with the special use procedures of Sec. 17-13-0900. Such signs are subject to compliance with all other applicable standards of this Zoning Ordinance.
      17-12-1002-D Prohibited Uses. Signs identified with a “-” are expressly prohibited. Signs types that are not listed in the table are also prohibited.
      17-12-1002-E Standards. The “Standards” column of the following sign table identifies specific standards that apply to some sign types. Compliance with such standards is required regardless of whether the sign is a Permitted (P) or special use (S).
      17-12-1002-F Table of Allowed Sign Types. Signs are allowed in B, C, M, DC, DX and DS zoning districts as follows:
Sign Type
B1, B2, M Districts
DC, DX Districts
B3, C3, DS Districts
C1, C2 Districts
Standards
Sign Type
B1, B2, M Districts
DC, DX Districts
B3, C3, DS Districts
C1, C2 Districts
Standards
On-premise
Awning
P
P
P
P
Freestanding [1]
P
P
P
P
High-Rise Building
   Hotels/Hospitals
-
P
P
-
   Other buildings
-
S
S
-
Marquee
P
P
P
P
Projecting
P
P
P
P
Wall
P
P
P
P
Off-premise [1]
Freestanding
P
- [2]
P
P
Wall
P
P
P
P
 
[1]   Freestanding signs and off-premise signs are prohibited on Pedestrian Streets (See Sec. 17-3-0500 and Sec. 17-4-0500 for Pedestrian Street lists).
[2]   Except for city digital signs, which are permitted in DX and prohibited in DC, all other off-premises, freestanding signs are prohibited.
   17-12-1003 Number, Area and Height Standards. All signs in B, C, DC, DX and DS zoning districts are subject to the Sign Area and Height Table of Sec. 17-12-1003-E.
      17-12-1003-A Maximum Total Sign Area. The maximum-total-sign-area standard controls the total combined sign face area of all signs on a zoning lot.
      17-12-1003-B Maximum Freestanding Sign Area. The maximum-freestanding-sign-area standard represents an additional control on the total sign face area of all freestanding signs on a zoning lot. It limits the total area of all freestanding signs to no more than 50% of the total maximum area allowed. A lot with 50 feet of street frontage in the B1 district, for example, would be allowed a total of 150 square feet of total sign area, with no more than 75 square feet of freestanding signs.
      17-12-1003-C Maximum Freestanding Sign Height. The maximum-freestanding-sign-height standard limits the overall height of any freestanding sign. The standard varies according to street frontage and right-of-way width. The maximum height of a freestanding sign on any zoning lot with 75 feet of street frontage or less is 24 feet. On lots with more than 75 feet of street frontage, taller signs are allowed if the abutting street right-of-way is wider than 80 feet.
      17-12-1003-D Minimum Guaranteed Sign Area for Ground-floor Tenants. This standard is intended to ensure that each ground-floor tenant in a building or shopping center has the opportunity to identify their respective businesses.
      17-12-1003-E Sign Area and Height Table. The following standards apply to all permanent signs in B, C, M, DC, DX and DS districts:
 
Regulation
B1, B2
Districts
DC, DX
Districts
B3, C1, C3, DS Districts
C2, M
Districts
Maximum Total Sign Area
(square feet)
3 × street frontage or 600 whichever is less
5 × street frontage or 800 whichever is less
4 × street frontage or 1,500 whichever is less
5 × street frontage or 1,800 whichever is less
For lots greater than 1 acre in area with multiple street frontages, the Maximum Total Sign Area standards of this section shall apply per street frontage.
Max. Freestanding Sign Area
50% of Maximum Total Sign Area Limit (above)
Maximum Freestanding Sign Height (feet)
24; or 35 if located on a zoning lot with more than 75 feet of street frontage on a single street that has a right-of-way width of more than 80 feet; or 50 feet if located on a zoning lot with more than 150 feet of frontage on a single street with a right-of-way width or more than 80 feet
Minimum Guaranteed Wall Sign Area for Ground-floor Tenants
32
Maximum Wall Sign Area
33% of building wall area
 
   17-12-1004 Sign Features and Characteristics. Signs that are allowed in B, C, M, DC, DX and DS districts are subject to the following standards:
 
B1, B2
Districts
DC, DX Districts
B3, C1, C3, DS Districts
C2, M
Districts
Allowed Lighting
Direct, Indirect or Internal
Dynamic Image Display Signs
Allowed, subject to Sec. 17-12-1005-B
(city digital signs are instead subject to Section 17-12-1200)
Flashing Signs
Prohibited
Allowed, subject to Sec. 17-12-1005-C
Video Display Signs
Prohibited except as allowed in Section 17-12-0711
Prohibited except as allowed in Section 17-12-0711
 
   17-12-1005 Additional Standards for Specific Types of Signs.
      17-12-1005-A Awning Signs.Awning signs must be affixed flat to the surface of the awning and not extend horizontally or vertically beyond the limits of the awning. Awning signs may not contain internal lighting.
      17-12-1005-B Dynamic Image Display Signs. In B1 and B2 districts, sign face area devoted to dynamic image displaysigns may not exceed 25% of the maximum total sign area allowed under Sec. 17-12-1003 or 32 square feet, whichever is less. In all districts, sign face area devoted to dynamic image displaysigns may not exceed 25% of the maximum total sign area allowed under Sec. 17-12-1003 or 64 square feet, whichever is less.
      17-12-1005-C Flashing Signs.
         1.   Maximum Area. The total sign face area of all flashing signs on a lot may not exceed 25% of overall sign area limit or 100 square feet, whichever is less.
         2.   Maximum Height. No part of any flashing sign may exceed a height of 24 feet.
         3.   Prohibited Locations. Flashing signs are prohibited in the following locations:
            (a)   B1 districts;
            (b)   B2 districts;
            (c)   Within 125 feet of any R or public park with an area of 2 acres or more;
            (d)   Within 100 feet of any DR district;
            (e)   Within 500 feet of Lake Shore Drive;
            (f)   Within 500 feet of any designated expressway or toll road; and
            (g)   Within 500 feet of Michigan Avenue, between Oak Street on the north and Roosevelt Road on the south.
      17-12-1005-D High-Rise Building Signs.
         1.   No more than one high-rise building sign is allowed on any building, unless the building is located within a planned development and the principal tenant of such building, as identified in 17-12-1005-D.9, also meets the criteria of 17-12-1005-D.10.
         2.   The maximum sign face area of a high-rise building sign is limited as follows:
Height of Sign
(feet above grade at base of building)
Maximum Area
(square feet)
Height of Sign
(feet above grade at base of building)
Maximum Area
(square feet)
150 – 199
200
200 – 299
300
300 – 399
400
400 – 499
500
500 – 599
600
600 – 649
700
650 – 699
800
700 – 749
900
750 – 799
1,000
800+
1,100
 
         3.   High-rise building signs must be individual letter signs.
         4.   High-rise building signs may not be attached to roof-mounted structures that exist solely for the purpose of supporting the sign.
         5.   High-rise building signs must be located directly below the highest roof line of the building and may not exceed 50% of the wall width at the height the high-rise building sign is established, provided that any high-rise building sign installed on the exterior wall of any roof-top mechanical equipment penthouse or other roof-top feature that is integral to the building upon which it is located may not exceed 50% of the wall width of the exterior wall of the building immediately beneath the height at which the high-rise building sign is established.
         6.   High-rise building signs must be integrated into the total building design to avoid detracting from the visual character of the building.
         7.   High-rise building signs comprised of more than one individual letter or element shall not have a height measurement that exceeds their width.
         8.   No projecting signs are allowed as high-rise building signs.
         9.   High-rise building signs shall be limited to business identification for the principal tenant of the building or, if applicable, the alternate principal tenant. For purposes of this subsection, “principal tenant” means a tenant that occupies or has a signed lease to occupy at least the lesser of 51% of the building’s total floor area or 350,000 square feet of the building’s total floor area. If there is no principal tenant, or if the principal tenant informs the Zoning Administrator in writing that it does not wish to display a high-rise building sign, then an alternate principal tenant may apply to the City for approval of a high-rise building sign identifying said alternate principal tenant (in place of, and not in addition to, a high-rise building sign identifying the principal tenant). For purposes of this subsection, “alternate principal tenant” means a tenant which: (i) is the building’s largest tenant, or next-largest tenant if there is no principal tenant, or, if there is a principal tenant, is the next-largest tenant; (ii) maintains the primary offices of its international, national or regional headquarters, or similarly publicly recognized significant business unit(s), in the building; and, (iii) either (a) maintains the primary offices of its chief executive or other executive officers in the building and employs 1,000 individuals nationally, or, (b) if those executive positions are not present in the building then employs at least 1,000 individuals in the building. Any principal or alternate principal tenant must provide the Zoning Administrator with building owner support for such high-rise building sign. Any principal or alternate principal tenant which is issued a high-rise building sign permit must re-certify, at the time of each high-rise building sign permit renewal request, that it adheres to the applicable tenancy requirements in place at the time of the approval of their original high-rise building sign application. Failure to comply with the applicable tenancy criteria will result in the denial of the associated permits to legally maintain a high-rise building sign, regardless of whether that sign is a nonconforming sign with regard to other requirements.
         10.   If a principal tenant, as identified in Section 17-12-1005-D.9, maintains, in the subject building: (i) its international headquarters, or if no international headquarters exists, its national headquarters; (ii) its chief executive officer; and (iii) occupies or has a signed lease to occupy at least the lesser of 60 percent of the building's total floor area or 450,000 square feet of the building's total floor area, then such principal tenant is eligible to place two high-rise building signs on the subject building.
         11.   High-rise building sign area does not count toward the Section 17-12-1003-E maximum total sign area permitted on a zoning lot.
      17-12-1005-E Reserved.
Editor's note – Coun. J. 7-20-16, p. 29358, § 2, repealed § 17-12-1005-E, which pertained to marquee signs.
      17-12-1005-F Projecting Signs.Projecting signs may project into the public way provided they are set back at least 18 inches from the curb line. Signs that project over the public way by more than 12 inches must have a minimum clearance of 9 feet.
      17-12-1005-G Reserved.
Editor's note – Coun. J. 4-30-14, p. 80832, § 5, repealed § 17-12-1005-G, which pertained to video display signs.
   17-12-1006 Additional Standards for Off- premise Signs.
      17-12-1006-A Separation from R and DR Districts.
         1.   Off-premise signs with a sign face area of more than 100 square feet are prohibited within 250 feet of any residential district.
         2.   Off-premise signs are prohibited entirely within 100 feet of any residential district; except off-premises dynamic image display signs are prohibited entirely within 125 feet of any residential district. This prohibition does not apply to any sign located within a planned development in which the principal use is: (1) a sports stadium; or (2) an exhibition or convention center.
         3.   These distances are to be measured as a straight-line distance from a point on the sign face nearest the R or DR district to nearest residential district boundary. (See Sec. 17-1-0803 for rules governing interpretation of zoning district boundaries)
      17-12-1006-B Separation from Residential Buildings in D Districts.
         1.   Off-premise signs are prohibited entirely within 100 feet of a residential building located in a D district.
         2.   This distance is to be measured as a straight-line distance from a point on the sign face nearest the residential building to nearest property line of the lot on which the residential building is located.
      17-12-1006-C Separation from Waterways.
         1.   Off-premise signs are prohibited within 100 feet of a waterway.
         2.   The waterways subject to this provision include: Chicago River Main Branch, Chicago River North Branch and North Branch Canal, Chicago River South Branch and South Fork of the South Branch, North Shore Channel, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Calumet River and Lake Calumet, Little Calumet River, Grand Calumet River, Wolf Lake, and Des Plaines River.
         3.   Measurement of the 100-foot distance from waterways is to be made from the high water mark boundary of the waterway along an axis generally perpendicular to the waterway.
      17-12-1006-D Separation from Public Parks.
         1.   Off-premise signs are prohibited within 400 feet of a public park with an area of 10 acres or more if the sign face is legible from the subject park.
         2.   Off-premise signs are prohibited within 100 feet of a public park with an area of 2 acres or more if the sign face is legible from the subject park.
         3.   These distances are to be measured as a straight-line distance from a point on the sign face nearest the park to the center line of any street bounding the park.
      17-12-1006-E Lakefront Protection District.Off-premise signs are prohibited within the boundaries of the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection District. (See Chapter 16-4, “Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance”)
      17-12-1006-F Separation from Designated Major Streets and Roads.
         1.   Off-premise signs are prohibited within 500 feet of the following street and road rights- of-way:
            (a)   Lake Shore Drive;
            (b)   any designated expressway or toll road;
            (c)   Michigan Avenue, between Oak Street on the north and Roosevelt Road on the south.
         2.   Off-premise signs visible from those street and roads indicated in Sec. 17-12-1006-F-1 but located more than 500 feet of the right-of-way must be at least 500 feet from all other off-premise signs located on the same side of the street or road.
         3.   Separation distances from streets and roads are to be measured as a straight-line distance from a point on the sign face nearest the referenced street or road to the nearest right-of-way line of such street or road. Separation distances between off-premise signs are to be measured as a straight-line distance from points on the respective sign faces that are nearest the other sign.
      17-12-1006-G Primary Boulevards.Off- premise signs are prohibited on any lot with street frontage on a primary boulevard.
      17-12-1006-H Separation from Other Off- premise Signs.
         1.   New off-premise signs proposed in B or C districts are prohibited within 300 feet of any other off-premise sign located on the same side of the street.
         2.   New off-premise signs proposed in D or M districts are prohibited within 150 feet of any other off-premise sign located on the same side of the street.
         3.   Separation distances between off- premise signs are to be measured as a straight-line distance from points on the respective sign faces that are nearest the other sign.
      17-12-1006-I Flashing and Video Display Elements.Off-premise signs may not contain flashing elements or video displays, except as allowed in section 17-12-0711.
(Added Coun. J. 5-26-04, p. 25275; Amend Coun. J. 3-9-05, p. 44391; Amend Coun. J. 9-13-06, p. 84870, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 5-9-07, p. 105899, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-19-08, p. 47220, Art. VII, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 12-12-12, p. 44485, § 6; Amend Coun. J. 2-13-13, p. 47133, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 4-30-14, p. 80382, § 5; Amend Coun. J. 5-28-14, p. 82414, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-19-14, p. 98820, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 7-20-16, p. 29358, §§ 1, 2; Amend Coun. J. 11-16-16, p. 38287, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 10-31-18, p. 87780, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 3-24-21, p. 29061, § 2)