Skip to code content (skip section selection)
(a) General. There shall be a Special Sign District known as the "City Center Special Sign District" in the block bounded by Geary Boulevard on the north, Masonic Avenue on the west, O'Farrell Street on the south and Lyon Street on the east, as designated on Sectional Map SSD of the Zoning Map of the City and County of San Francisco. The original copy of said Sectional Map with this Special Sign District indicated thereon is on file with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors under File No. 110448. Signs in the City Center Special Sign District shall be subject to the provisions of Article 6 except that the controls as provided in this Section 608.16 shall apply in lieu of the sign controls specified in Section 607.1. Further, in the event of a conflict between the provisions of Section 608.16 that authorize specified signs and other provisions of Article 6, the provisions of Section 608.16 shall prevail notwithstanding any provision of the Code to the contrary.
(1) The City Center was built in 1951 as an approximately seven-acre, single-tenant, multilevel Sears department store on a site spanning four city blocks bounded by Geary Boulevard, Masonic Avenue, Lyon Street, and O'Farrell Street. The Sears store historically maintained projecting signs on the north and south elevations of the building, on a centrally located sign tower, in alcoves below the roofline of the building, and above pedestrian entries. The signs were scaled and located to provide visibility from the wide roadways bordering the City Center.
(2) In 1994, the City Center reopened as a multi-tenant shopping center. Signs on the sign towers and in roofline alcoves were removed at that time, limiting the visibility of the City Center and its tenants from Geary Boulevard.
(3) The City Center has experienced significant vacancy in recent years since its conversion to multi-tenant use, resulting in a loss of sales tax revenue to the City. Adequate, well-placed signs on both the building and at parking entrances are necessary to ensure that the City Center remains a viable retail center providing goods and services to residents, while generating sales tax revenue for the City.
(4) The City Center has six separate surface parking lots with separate entrances accessible from Geary Boulevard, Masonic Avenue and O'Farrell Street, which are built at different grades and cannot feasibly be connected. Directional signs at parking lot entrances are necessary to direct motorists to the lot adjacent to the store they intend to visit and to minimize traffic congestion on surrounding streets.
(5) The City Center has multiple entrances and levels, with commercial units on the lower and upper stories with access to stores from streets or from one of the six separate surface parking lots. Signs and other advertising devices for on-site businesses are essential to the general quality and economic stability of the City Center. Current sign regulations, which are tailored to smaller storefronts typical of the City's neighborhood commercial districts, do not provide sufficient visibility for businesses located in the City Center, a large-scale development with a building height, bulk, appearance and site configuration that differs from that of other neighborhood commercial districts.
(6) Sign sizes, number, height and placement should take into account the configuration of the site development and the adjacent wide streets and an expressway, in order to provide visual relief to the large area of the building, visibility for its businesses and identity for the City Center as a whole.
(7) Additional projecting signs, wall signs, and directional signs at parking lot entrances would improve the visual appeal, identity, and long-term viability of the City Center, while improving access to its parking facilities and minimizing traffic congestion.
(c) Definitions. Within the City Center Special Sign District, the following definitions shall apply in addition to the applicable definitions in Sections 602et seq.:
(1) Copy Area. On a directional sign, projecting sign, or sign tower, copy area shall refer to the entire area within a single continuous rectangular perimeter formed by extending lines around the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, or any figure of similar character.
(2) Directional Sign. A directional sign shall mean a sign identifying the location of a parking lot entry and the names of the businesses accessible from such lot. A directional sign may also identify the number of parking spaces available in the adjacent parking lot and the name of the shopping center.
(3) Internal Wayfinding Signs. Internal wayfinding signs shall mean signs located entirely on private property which are intended to direct vehicles and pedestrians within the site. Internal wayfinding signs shall be designed to be minimally visible from any public right of way.
(e) Illumination. All signs may be non-illuminated, indirectly or directly illuminated. Signs may not be flashing, blinking, fluctuating or otherwise animated light.
(f) Business Signs. Business signs, as defined in Section 602.3, shall be permitted subject to the limits set forth below.
(1) Wall Signs. Wall signs, as defined in Section 602.22, shall be permitted as follows:
(A) Wall Signs Above Pedestrian Entries from a Parking Lot. For a business occupying 8,000 square feet or more, one wall sign up to 200 square feet in area shall be permitted above each pedestrian entry to the business from a parking lot. For a business occupying less than 8,000 square feet, one wall sign up to 75 square feet in area shall be permitted above each pedestrian entry to the business from a parking lot. The height of any parking lot entry wall sign shall not exceed 28 feet.
(B) Wall Signs Above Pedestrian Entries from a Public Sidewalk. The area of all wall signs located above pedestrian entries from a public sidewalk shall not exceed three square feet per foot of street frontage occupied by the use measured along the wall to which the signs are attached, or 150 feet for each street frontage, whichever is less. The height of any street entry wall sign shall not exceed 24 feet.
(C) Other Wall Signs. The following additional wall signs shall be permitted:
(i) Up to three additional wall signs shall be permitted on each of the Masonic Avenue and Geary Boulevard frontages. The area of each sign shall be limited to a maximum of 115 square feet. The height of such wall signs shall not exceed 48 feet.
(ii) At the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Lyon Street, up to 500 square feet of wall signs shall be permitted, provided that no wall sign for a single use shall occupy more than 80 square feet. The height of such wall signs shall not exceed the height of the wall on which they are located.
(iii) One wall sign shall be permitted in each of the two existing sign alcoves located below the roofline of the building on the primary west and east building elevations perpendicular to Geary Boulevard, subject to the following conditions: wall signs shall be no higher than the wall to which they are attached, shall have a maximum area of 170 square feet, and shall be identifying signs, as defined in Section 602.10, for the shopping center.
(2) Window Signs. The total area of all window signs, as defined in Section 602.1(b), shall not exceed 1/3 the area of the window on or in which the signs are located.
(3) Projecting Signs. A total of six projecting signs shall be permitted within the Special Sign District, subject to the following limitations, provided, however, that the limits on the number of projecting signs per business and size of projecting signs set forth elsewhere in this Code shall not apply.
(A) Projecting signs may be identifying signs for the shopping center or business signs or may contain seasonal messages.
(B) No projecting sign shall project more than eight feet over the property line or exceed the height of the wall to which it is attached by more than 10 feet.
(C) Five projecting signs shall be permitted on Geary Boulevard, each with up to 2 faces. One such sign shall be permitted to have an area up to 540 square feet per face and a maximum copy area of 240 square feet per face. Four such signs shall be permitted to have an area up to 470 square feet per face, and a maximum copy area of 240 square feet per face. As of the effective date of this ordinance, the building has one existing projecting sign on Geary Boulevard with an area of 540 square feet. The new projecting signs authorized by this section on Geary Boulevard shall be visually distinct from and subordinate to the existing projecting sign.
(D) One projecting sign shall be permitted on the building fronting the parking lot at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and O'Farrell Street. Such sign shall be permitted to have an area up to 752 square feet per face, and a maximum copy area of 240 square feet per face.
(4) Freestanding Signs and Sign Towers. Freestanding signs and sign towers shall be permitted as follows:
(A) One freestanding sign shall be permitted near the intersection of Masonic Avenue and O'Farrell Street. Such sign shall be located wholly on private property and shall identify the name of the shopping center and its tenants. Such sign may have up to 2 faces and shall be limited to a height of 35 feet, a total area of 260 square feet per face and a copy area of 140 square feet per face.
(B) One freestanding directional sign with up to 2 faces shall be permitted at each parking lot entry, up to a maximum of seven within the Special Sign District. Directional signs shall not exceed a height of 15 feet. The area of a directional sign tower shall not exceed 50 square feet per face, and the copy area shall not exceed 20 square feet per face.
(C) On the existing central sign tower, located approximately in the center of the property and adjacent to the rooftop penthouse, two signs shall be permitted subject to the following conditions: the copy area shall not exceed 240 square feet per sign, the height shall not exceed the height of the existing central sign tower to which they are attached, and such signs shall be limited to identifying signs for the shopping center.
(h) Temporary Signs. Signs authorized in Section 607.1(g) pertaining to temporary signs shall be authorized in the City Center Special Sign District.
(Added by Ord. 195-11 , File No. 110448, App. 10/4/2011, Eff. 11/3/2011)