§ 83.13.120  Nonconforming Signs.
   (a)   Amortization of Nonconforming Signs.  Nonconforming signs shall be removed or altered to be conforming as provided below.
      (1)   Nonconforming on-site signs that are located in an agricultural or residential district shall be removed from the site without compensation after the expiration of 15 years from the date the sign became nonconforming. Upon the expiration of the amortization period, the sign shall be an illegal use subject to immediate removal. Nonconforming on-site signs that are also illegal signs shall be removed immediately from the site without compensation.
      (2)   Legal nonconforming commercial signs and billboards existing at the time this Code became effective may be continued, although the use does not conform with these provisions provided, however, that these nonconforming signs and billboards and their supporting structures shall be completely removed by their owners not later than five years from the effective date of this Code.
      (3)   Legal nonconforming off-site sign displays located in an area designated on the County General Plan and designated as either agricultural or residential and located more than 660 feet from the edge of the right-of-way of a freeway or primary highway, that have copy not visible or intended to be read from the freeway or primary highway, shall be removed from the site without compensation in compliance with the following schedule. This amortization period shall commence upon receipt of written notice of nonconformance.
Fair Market Value on Date of Notice
Maximum Years Allowed
Under $1,999.00
$2,000.00 to $3,999.00
$4,000.00 to $5,999.00
$6,000.00 to $7,999.00
$8,000.00 to $9,999.00
$10,000.00 and over
      (4)   The Building Official shall determine the fair market value in compliance with the latest material valuation schedules and send notice of the determined value to the owner. Disagreement over the value shall be resolved under the appeal procedures identified in this Code. Upon the expiration of the appeal period, the sign shall be an illegal use, subject to immediate removal.
   (b)   Continuance of Nonconforming Signs.  A nonconforming sign may be continued and shall be maintained in good condition as required by these regulations, but it shall not be:
      (1)   Structurally changed to another nonconforming sign, but its pictorial content may be changed.
      (2)   Structurally altered to prolong the life of the sign, except to meet safety requirements.
      (3)   Expanded or altered in a manner that increases the degree of nonconformity.
      (4)   Reestablished after damage or destruction if the estimated cost of reconstruction exceeds 75 percent of the replacement cost as determined by the Building Official.
   (c)   New Signs on Sites with Nonconforming Signs.  No new sign shall be approved for a site, structure, building, or use that contains a nonconforming sign unless the nonconforming sign is removed or modified to conform to the provisions of this Chapter. No building permit shall be issued for any structures, building expansions, or new building construction on a site that contains nonconforming signs, unless all signs on the site are brought into compliance with this Chapter. This does not include interior alterations that do not substantially change the character or intensity of the site.
   (d)   Repairing and Painting.  Nonconforming signs shall only be painted and repaired in place and shall not be removed from their existing location except for building remodeling.
   (e)   Change of Business Ownership. Upon a change of ownership, the new owner of a nonconforming sign may change a name or names on the sign so long as there is no change in the structure or configuration of the sign.
   (f)   Structure Remodeling.  Nonconforming signs may be removed for the purpose of remodeling a structure and shall be replaced immediately after the remodeling is completed. No alteration of the sign cabinet or structure is allowed.
   (g)   Hardship Cases.
      (1)   Under cases of extreme hardship and unusual circumstances, the Commission shall have the authority to allow the retention of a legal nonconforming sign if the Commission specifically finds that extreme hardship and unusual circumstances exist. The proponent of the request shall have the burden of clearly demonstrating that an extreme hardship and unusual circumstance exists and warrants the retention of the nonconforming sign. The Commission shall conduct a public hearing and shall find the following to be true before allowing retention of a nonconforming sign:
         (A)   The site has a unique character or features that cause visibility problems.
         (B)   The sign does not create a traffic hazard.
         (C)   The sign does not create a visual blight to the community.
         (D)   The sign does not adversely affect adjacent properties.
         (E)   The sign is properly maintained and structurally sound.
         (F)   Other sign alternatives or designs would not be feasible or be able to provide reasonable signing in compliance with this Code.
      (2)   If the Commission finds that an extreme and unusual circumstance exists, but that the design or condition of the sign creates a visual blight, then the Commission may grant a relief from the amortization of the nonconforming sign with the condition that the sign be remodeled to improve the condition of the sign and/or to create a more aesthetic design.
(Ord. 4011, passed - -2007)