Securing Sign Permits in Los Angeles: Rules and Procedures

In the sprawling cityscape of Los Angeles, signage serves as a beacon for businesses looking to attract foot traffic and awareness. 

From the city’s perspective, if left unchecked, it can ruin the urban aesthetics and potentially lead to unsafe conditions for the public. 

As a result, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has established restrictions and requirements for businesses looking to install new signage. It can be confusing to navigate how different rules apply to different types of signage and different locations.   

We wrote this resource to help demystify the signage permit process in Los Angeles, explaining the rules, procedures, and best practices for securing your signage legally and effectively.


Signage Permit Basics

Los Angeles’ signage regulations encompass various factors, including size, location, and lighting, to ensure that signs contribute positively to the city’s aesthetic and do not pose safety risks.

  • Size Regulations: The city imposes restrictions on sign dimensions based on the zoning of the property and the sign’s proximity to residential areas.
  • Location Restrictions: Signs must be placed so they do not obstruct public right-of-way, interfere with traffic visibility, or encroach on public spaces. Visit for zoning information. 
  • Lighting Guidelines: Illuminated signs are subject to guidelines that prevent light pollution and disturbances to nearby residences.

Understanding these basic regulations is the first step in planning for compliant signage.


When is a permit required?

A permit is required when your sign meets any of the following criteria: 

  • New signage
  • Alterations to an existing sign
  • Removal of an existing sign
  • Sign within a mall
  • Temporary sign, pennant, banner, ribbon, streamer or spinner
  • External illumination also requires a separate electrical permit

They are not required for: 

  • Signs smaller than 20 square feet in area, installed on the ground no more than 6 ft. 6-in. tall, and do not include moving parts. 
  • Official notices 
  • Changing sign copy
  • Temporary signs with non-commercial messaging


Types of Signs

The City of Los Angeles lists 24 types of signs, each including its own definition and requirements. Some of the most common types include: 

  • Awning sign
  • Identification sign
  • Interior mall sign
  • Marquee sign
  • Roof sign

See the full list starting on page four of this PDF


Application Process

The process of applying for a signage permit in Los Angeles involves several key steps, each critical to ensuring a smooth approval process:

  1. Pre-Application Research: Research the specific zoning regulations and signage allowances for your property location. The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) website offers resources and tools for this purpose.
  2. Design Preparation: Design your sign according to the city’s regulations, considering the size, location, and lighting restrictions. Consulting with a design professional familiar with local regulations may be beneficial.
  3. Documentation: Gather the required documentation, which typically includes lot dimensions; location and building dimensions; size, location and type of each proposed sign; and size, location and type of all existing signage. 
  4. Submission: Submit a “B” building permit application and accompanying documentation to the LADBS, either online through the e-permitting system or in person at a service center.
  5. Obtain a Sign Pre-Inspection: Make sure you have a maximum 8.5 x 11-in. size plan available for each sign proposed. 
  6. Review and Approval: Your application will undergo a review process, during which city officials may request additional information or modifications to ensure compliance.


Avoiding Common Mistakes

Several common pitfalls can delay or derail the signage permit process. These include:

  • Inadequate Research: Failing to research zoning laws and signage regulations thoroughly can lead to non-compliant sign designs.
  • Incorrect Documentation: Incomplete or incorrect submission of required documents can result in application rejection.
  • Overlooking Neighbor Impact: Not considering the impact of your sign on neighboring properties can lead to objections and potential legal challenges.

Permit Place emphasizes the importance of meticulous preparation and research to avoid these common mistakes.


Enforcement and Penalties

Non-compliance with Los Angeles’ signage regulations can result in significant penalties, including fines, mandatory removal of the sign, or legal action. The city actively enforces signage regulations through inspections and community reports. Businesses found in violation may be given a notice to comply, outlining the necessary corrective actions and the timeline for compliance.


Best Practices for Securing Signage Permits

Securing a signage permit in Los Angeles requires a thorough understanding of city regulations, careful planning, and attention to detail. Best practices include:

  • Early Planning: Begin the permit process early to accommodate any necessary design changes or additional documentation.
  • Professional Consultation: Consider consulting with design professionals and permit expediting services like Permit Place to navigate the process more efficiently.
  • Regular Follow-Up: Stay proactive in communicating with the LADBS throughout the review process to address any issues promptly.

By adhering to these guidelines and leveraging available resources, businesses can enhance their visibility in Los Angeles while remaining compliant with local regulations. 

Permit Place remains dedicated to assisting clients through the signage permit process, ensuring that your business signage not only captures attention but also aligns with the city’s standards for safety and aesthetics.

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