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 / Planning & Community Development / Sign Code

Sign Code

The purpose of the Mukilteo sign code is to enhance the City’s visual environment and safety by encouraging the creative use and design of signs as a means of communication that attracts and invites rather than demands the public’s attention while protecting the ability of businesses through the use of signs to identify their premises and advertise their products without undue hindrance or obstruction.  Mukilteo’s sign regulations are found in Mukilteo Municipal Code (MMC) Title 17 – Zoning, in section MMC 17.80.  It is divided into the following subsections.

17.80.010  Purpose.
17.80.020  Applicability—Effect.
17.80.030  Permit requirements.
17.80.040  General permit procedures.
17.80.050  Prohibited signs.
17.80.060  Signs that do not require a permit.
17.80.070  Wall, projecting, suspended, freestanding and window signs.
17.80.080  Service station signs.
17.80.090  Neighborhood and community identification signs.
17.80.100  Master signage plan and complex identification signage.
17.80.110  Off-premises directional business signs/special use permits.
17.80.120  Temporary and portable signs.
17.80.130  Design, construction and maintenance of signs.
17.80.140  Nonconforming signs.
17.80.150  Illumination.
17.80.160  Amortization for billboard signs.
17.80.170  Variances.
17.80.180  Violations and enforcement.
17.80.190  Summary tables.

In October 2010 the Mukilteo City Council approved an ordinance amending the City’s sign code to make it consistent with recent court decisions and to make it more effective.  While most of the regulations related to permanent signs were either unchanged or only slightly changed, regulations for portable signs were significantly changed.  Also, window sign rules were adopted to allow such signs but with limitations on their size.

When adopting the new sign code, the City Council also directed staff to conduct a public outreach educational program so interested parties could be informed of the new rules.  The Council also directed staff to proactively enforce the sign code after the outreach program was substantially completed.  City policy regarding code enforcement has generally been to enforce on a complaint-driven basis except when residents’ health and safety might be compromised.  However, by proactively enforcing the sign code the hope is that by expending the effort now the result will be the establishment of a culture of widespread compliance with the code which in turn will mean less effort to enforce the code later.

Some of the more widespread changes to the sign code were:

  • Real estate signs are treated the same as all other commercial signs
  • Portable signs may not be left out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They may only be out when the business is open to the public or the event is taking place.
  • Window signs are allowed, but may not exceed 15% of the window area or 50 square feet, whichever is less.

As part of the educational program the following one-page informational sheets were created to readily and simply describe regulations for specific types of signs.

* Non-commercial signs include signs related to garage sales, school events, places of worship, sport leagues and other non-profit events open to the public.

To read the sign code in its entirety go to MMC 17.80.

A detailed comprehensive enforcement program has been developed by staff.  Staff will start out by conducting daily signs sweeps, including on weekends, when illegal signs will be picked up.  Key elements of the program include detailed documentation of every action taken to ensure the regulations are applied fairly and uniformly.  To further the goal of equal enforcement, staff will follow these steps with no discretion to alter any of the steps.

  1. The first time a sign is picked up staff will contact the sign owner and arrange a meeting at City Hall.  At the meeting the signs will be returned to the sign owner after they are informed why the sign was picked up.  No civil infraction citation will be issued nor will any impound fees be collected.
  2. The second time a sign is picked up, a Class III Civil Infraction citation will be issued.  The Class III penalty is $50.  Sign owners will be invited to come to City Hall to retrieve their signs, but before they are returned a $25 impound fee per sign must be paid.
  3. The third time a sign is picked up a Class II Civil Infraction (penalty = $125) citation will be issued and the impound fee must be paid before the signs are returned.
  4. The fourth time a sign is picked up a Class I Civil Infraction (penalty = $250) citation will be issued and the signs will not be returned but will be disposed of.


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