The Des Moines City Council approved 12 changes to the City’s Sign Code at their Aug. 8 session, following two public hearings. The Sign Code ordinance was proposed to promote economic development, help businesses communicate their services more effectively, and to assist the City, schools and churches in keeping the community better informed. The changes resulted from a 9-month effort by the Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee working with property owners, businesses and developers to improve the City’s economy. “I am delighted that the City Council adopted these changes. We expect this to be the first of three significant economic development-related municipal code changes in 2013” said Mayor Pro-Tem Matt Pina, Chair of the Finance and Economic Development Committee. Public hearings for changes to the City’s Pacific Ridge Zone and Parking regulations were initially held on August 8th and will be concluded September 12th at which time the ordinances may be adopted. “Together these changes should make it much easier for existing business to grow and for new businesses to develop,” Pina added. A key change to the Sign Code included provisions for City-operated 32 sq ft reader board signs communicating information about City services, community events and emergency management. The first such reader board sign will be installed later this year in conjunction with the Transportation Gateway improvement on South 216th Street at the entrance to the Des Moines Activity Center and financed in large part by private funds. Churches, schools and community centers will also be allowed to install freestanding signs up to 10 feet tall, 80 square feet in area, including up to 32 square feet for electronic reader board signs. Other changes included:

  • Increasing the size of business identification signs from 4 to 36 square feet.
  • Doubling the size of on-premises bulletin boards to 24 square feet.
  • Allowing a single 12 sq ft off-premises sign when none was previously permitted.
  • Permitting roof signs under certain height conditions for Pacific Ridge businesses.
  • Increasing the area size for freestanding signs from 80 to 100 square feet.
  • Increasing the height for free standing signs from 15 to 20 feet, with administrative flexibility for the City Manager to approve taller signs under certain site conditions.
  • Eliminating the general prohibition for off-premises signs.
  • Doubling the size of single business property wall signs – increasing the maximum size from 100 to 200 square feet depending on the length of street frontage.
  • Eliminating technical provisions which will allow internally illuminated signs to be more easily seen at night.
  • Allowing realtors to have more directional signs in place longer on the days of their open houses.
For more details on these changes, please contact Senior Planner Laura Techico at (206) 870-6595, Economic Development Manager Marion Yoshino at (206) 870-6725, refer to the adopted Sign Code Ordinance 1572 on the City’s Website at, or review the codified updated Sign Code, DMMC 18.42 (expected publication October 2013) at]]>

6 replies on “City’s Sign Code changed to 'promote more economic development'”

  1. Every so often, our City Council works hard and goes unnoticed for their achievements. This is one of those times when we need to applaud each of the seven who promoted this business perpetuation theme. It does not indicate that our little village will become gigantic billboard; it does mean that we will know better what is available within our boundaries. More importantly, it should advertise to those who normally just pass through on the way to somewhere else, might be induced to stop over. Let’s not always fault our Council; they are people like us who volunteered to serve for little pay. Signs promote business and business rewards our city with revenue.

    1. Pat, maybe we should put that on one of the new permitted billboards and let everyone know that Des Moines will soon look like the Vegas strip with all sorts of signs. It should make the stop and go trip on Pac Hiway (since none of the signals are synced) thru Des Moines more colorful…

      1. We all have some point of view and expressing it is what makes our country great. When our council does something that appears to be good for the community, I hope they have also reined in the possibility of sign glut. My feeling here is that we should stand in support of this decision and withhold judgment.
        I find myself wrong on some issues from time to time but expect me to express it anyway.

  2. Things are very funny. When our Council doesn’t approve changes they are interfering with business and growth, when they do approve changes then are idiots and trying to promote unwanted business. Geez, there is no making you people happy. I will never run for a council position because my bluntness with the ongoing complaining would probably get me recalled.
    I would like to thank the council for their willingness to look at ALL options and take actions to help improve our community and our economic conditions.

    1. Thank you, resident, it is not fun to be alone. IF we as citizens could work with council as a team, things would go better.

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