Legal Considerations Regarding Regulation of Signs


A sign is defined by the International Code Council any device visible from a public place that displays either commercial or general message with graphic representation alphabetical or pictorial symbols or presentation. There are significant legal assumptions that affect the ability of public institutions’ follow the rules sign without having the correct code signing and provision is constitutional test and judicial scrutiny. There is a great need for local lawmakers to be aware of the challenges that can occur when enforcement codes and zoning ordinances sign caused citizen dissatisfaction and potentially lead to claims unfair treatment under the law. Many business owners may try to litigate increased signage regulation by claiming unconstitutionality. It is important to ensure that the services are provided, and the codes that are enforced, are useful and legitimate.

There are many reasons for the wide variety of signals is controlled. They can range from purely aesthetic concerns to the desire to promote a cohesive business promotion and even in order to ensure safety. Uncontrolled signs often leads to visual blight, cluttered storefronts, which also help to limit the visibility of internal shops outside, a concern for law enforcement. Uncontrolled sign can become inefficient, as well as, unauthorized symptoms can become dangerous if improperly installed.

The Planning and Code Enforcement Agencies are part of the public authorities, the control measures that are taken are subject to basic constitutional control. First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution all have implications for bathroom Regulation and personal rights. The most pressing issue that is usually when applied constitutionality is whether the signal code attempts to control sign content. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise there ;. or abridging the freedom of speech” to mark code or zoning regulations to pass strict scrutiny under the First Amendment, it needs to be content neutral. Sign codes are content-based can be difficult to enforce legally. In the case of North Olmstead Chamber of Commerce, et al v. City of North OLMSTEAD State Ohio, 2000, the Federal Court struck ruled a sign code unconstitutional when directional signs in front of the company may contain words such as “Enter Here” and was not published “Golden Arches” logo McDonalds or the words “Honda service. ” The court also cited the fact that local governments have interpreted other content-based provision of the code by banning the Dodge dealership from displaying the logo of corporate logos.

Based on the ruling in this case if the label contains a number of rules or ordinances that define sings of their use, such as identification tags, sign, etc., the only way to really classify signals can be of the message content the symbols and such rules are the content-based. Basically, the label Regulation may be considered unconstitutional when Regulation singing requires reading the message. To sign code to be considered the constitution it needs to prevent control certain aspects or amount to censorship. Most signal number should have certain signs to be classified as exempt or do not require a license, but have restrictions on the number and size.

Application fifth constitutional guarantees that “no one may be .. .deprived or life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property taken for public use, without just compensation” towards Regulation of sign deals with actual takings state of signals through the physical removal or prohibition. This provision could be the signal that was once allowed, but has not been taken or made to remove the numbers that severely limit the ability for companies to send to customers. In addition, internal signals can be treated differently than non-indoor ones involved in the need to remove or condemnation, and may be suitable for the Fifth Amendment compensation. If the code is being changed to prevent even legal labels carefully consider exceptions to the previously existing signs or amortization period to remove the logo. Jurisdiction may also choose to provide for the removal of such signs at no cost to sign owner.

The failure to provide certain requirements as reasonable remuneration allow or clear standards of authorization and the number may be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, due to irregularities process may also violate freedom of speech and let the code invalid. Problems such as lack of due process, in contravention of restrictions on personal rights, can lead to filing lawsuits and lead to unnecessary litigation with the owners sign, business owners and sign companies.

In 2003, City of Sunrise, Florida was sued for unconstitutional inconsistencies found in the sign code that eventually made Coral Springs Street Systems, Inc. to construct billboards within the jurisdiction of the city. As a lawyer for the plaintiff pointed out that no license was required to publish a temporary political signs, but needed other similar symptoms and signs this company has won a similar case against three other South Florida municipalities.

In the 1994 case of Ladue v. Gilleo 512 US 43, the court found that the city ordinance was not constitutional as it aims to prohibit posting political signs in residential neighborhoods. The issue of this particular case was that the code limited speck without adequate option for people of modest means to express themselves. Such is the case in prohibiting the publication of “For Sale” sign on residence may be considered unconstitutional because all other options for expressing the same message would be incomplete due to cost and less likely to reach persons who were deliberately seeking information. Sign codes usually allow for these types of signs only restriction areas such as the size and number but still allow to achieve the objective sign of the owner.

Before the mid-1970s very little constitutional protection was granted ads classified as “commercial speech.” However, in 1980, Central Hudson Gas and Electric v. Public Service Commission 447 US 557, defined test case for the constitutionality of restrictions on trade speech that became known as the “Central Hudson” test. This test asks four different questions that determine the permissible restrictions that may be imposed on commercial speech

1) is speech protected by the First Amendment

2) is a significant public interest served

3) Must be of direct benefit to the legitimate public interests of

4) management more restrictive than necessary

course forbidden language-related items such as pornography and illegal activities, for example, would not protected speech.


While signs numbers can legally control the height, size, location and other characteristics company logo, regulations defining characteristics based on their content or the message that they show may violation of constitutional rights. In order to control signals that are installed in residential areas, codes or ordinances need to focus on those areas which may be controlled, such as limiting the size and height of signs that can be placed on the residence. When regulating business signs, zoning laws can be constitutional not allow for a public body to fully remove all the efficient use of assets through the exercise of police powers of zoning regulations and sign ordinances. Since the economy has influenced local politics, it is important to find a balance between the needs of regulation and advertising.

This article was designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It was written with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.


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