You’ve seen the signs… Signs mounted on a utility pole announcing weight loss services or legal aid;
Signs on sidewalks advertising easy credit card memberships; Signs on the shoulder of the road or on bike paths noting a new business around the corner; Signs advertising a garage sale; Signs giving directions to an apartment complex or a new housing development.

All these signs are very common and have always been ILLEGAL.

The City of Phoenix signs in the right-of-way ordinance includes severe penalties for anyone violating the ordinance. Posting your signs isn’t just illegal, it’s dangerous.  Anyone posting signs on a pole is subject to a $2,500 fine (sec, 3-6; 8).

Why Does Phoenix Have a Sign Ordinance and Prohibit Signs Placed in the Right-of-Way?

The purpose of the sign ordinance is to provide for safe and well-maintained environments in communities throughout the city. Illegal signs can be dangerous if they become loose and fall into the street or hit a pedestrian. Signs are a hazard if they block the view of motorists or the view of pedestrians. Signs can damage the integrity of poles and create a hazard to utility workers. Signs on sidewalks or bike paths can force pedestrians into traffic. Signs on corners make it difficult for drivers to see into intersections.
Signs are an eyesore; they can become paper graffiti or litter, adding to the blight in many areas.  Additionally, residents can be held financially liable for any damage resulting from posting signs in the common area and/or to the common area element assets owned and/or maintained by the Desert Ridge Community Association.

What is a Right-of-Way?

The right-of-way varies widely throughout the city of Phoenix. As a rule of thumb, it includes streets, curbs, medians, traffic light, utility poles, and unimproved shoulders of streets up to private property and generally 2 1/2 feet beyond sidewalks. Placing signs in these areas is always illegal. A-frame signs are also illegal in the right-of-way—which includes sidewalks and private property—throughout Phoenix.

Business owners do have the right to attract customers and advertise by posting signs on his/her property as long as the owner has received the necessary sign permit from the Development Services Department. Permit applications are available by calling 602-495-0301.

What Are the Penalties for Posting Signs in the Right-of-Way?

The fine for placing signs in the right-of-way ranges from $250 to $2,500. These fines are imposed PER VIOLATION.

Who Will be Cited for Violations?

The sign ordinance allows police officers to cite businesses or individuals that might benefit from the illegally posted signs, even though they may not have actually placed the signs themselves. As always, individuals caught placing the signs in the right-of-way will be cited.

How Can Private Citizens Advertise in Their Neighborhoods?

Perhaps the safest and best way to spread the word about your garage sale, lost dog or other personal message is to advertise in one of the many newspapers and publications available around the Valley. You can also seek to advertise on neighborhood grocery store bulletin boards or on the internet.

What About Signs That Are Up Right Now, But Have Yet to be Reported?

The city of Phoenix highly encourages businesses and individuals that currently have signs illegally in the right-of-way to remove them before costly citations are issued. The city also strongly discourages individuals or groups from attempting to remove other peoples’ signs.

There are several potential safety hazards by working in the right-of-way; not to mention possible legal ramifications if damage is done to another individuals’s sign or what it is attached to.

Where do I Go For More Information?

For more information about illegal signs or to report a violation, call 602-534-7100, or send an e-mail to: illegal.sign.rightofway.nsd@phoenix.gov

Neighborhood Services Department, 200 West Washington Street, 4th Floor, Phoenix, Arizona 85003-1611. ADA Liaison at 602-495-5459, TDD: 602-495-0685.