of value. It includes money, barter of goods, trade of services, promise of
future payment, forgiveness of debt. A sign needs a state permit if
compensation is exchanged for putting someone else’s message on your sign, or
for placing your sign structure on someone else’s property.
Designated Scenic Area:
Stretch of highway that was declared scenic, and therefore off limits for
outdoor advertising signs, during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The statute
that allowed for new designations was repealed, but the existing stretches
remain. ODOT cannot write an outdoor advertising sign permit in such an area.
Electronic Variable Message sign (EVM): A
sign made up of lights that allow the message to be changed quickly and from
a remote location. Until recently these typically had small display areas,
were made up of only white lights, and showed boxy letters and images. New
technology, including LED signs, allows for large signs, various
colors, and full motion.
Federal Highway Beautification
Act: 1965 law that required states to implement regulation on signs
visible to certain federal-aid highways. Each state entered an agreement with
Federal Highway Administration to apply zoning, spacing, size, and lighting
restrictions, and to “effectively control” signs, or risk losing 10% of
certain annual highway funding.
Freeway: For sign regulation, a
“freeway” is a divided highway with at least four traffic lanes, grade
separation at intersections, and full access control.
Governmental Unit: Any
governmental group, including federal, state, county, city or political
subdivision, or an agency of such a government. It includes fire districts
and water/soil conservation districts. Signs for governmental units can
obtain permit exemptions if the sign is posted to carry out some duty of that
LED signs: Type of electronic
variable message sign made up of thousands of tiny lights called LED’s (light
emitting diodes). Unlike earlier EVM technology, LED signs can be billboard
size, have full color, and allow for images that appear to move with
Maintain: Routine upkeep and
repair of a sign structure short of reconstructing the sign. Painting,
changing copy, changing panels, and small repairs are maintenance.
Reconstruction includes changing supports, changing support materials,
rebuilding after major damage or collapse, and adding a back-up face to an
existing sign. Maintaining a sign does not require a special permit;
reconstructing a sign does.
sign that was legal when constructed, but no longer complies with the law
because of a later change in law, or a change in circumstances not due to the
sign owner’s action. A nonconforming sign cannot be reconstructed unless that
will fix the nonconforming problem.
Information Act (OMIA): The set of laws that regulate signs along state
Outdoor Advertising Sign: Under
state law, a sign posted for compensation, or that is not at a business
or an activity open to the public. Unless it qualifies for an exemption, an
outdoor advertising sign needs a state permit to be legal.
Prohibited Sign: A
sign structure or placement that is illegal regardless of whether the sign
needs a state permit. The law lists nine types that are prohibited, mostly
for safety concerns.
Protected Area: A
stretch of interstate subject to an extra level of regulation on outdoor advertising
signs. Under the federal Bonus Act, Oregon received extra interstate
construction money in exchange for limiting signs in these areas.
Changing supports, changing support materials, rebuilding after major damage
or collapse, changing support height, and adding a back-up face to an
existing sign. Reconstructing an outdoor advertising sign requires a special
permit; maintaining a sign does not.
Removing a permitted outdoor advertising sign and building a new one in a new
location. Your new location must comply with the OMIA, and you must
obtain a relocation permit to legally do this.
Relocation Credit: A
credit to use in the future to obtain a relocation permit. If you lose your
land lease and remove your permitted sign, but do not yet have a spot to
rebuild, you can bank the permit as a “relocation credit.” You must notify
the Sign Program that you lost your lease, your sign is down, and request the
Right of Way: The
highway pavement and (usually) some additional width beyond the pavement
owned by the state for the sake of safety or future highway expansion. The
width varies from place to place, including along one highway. In some cities
the right of way is just curb to curb. In other places it may be 100 feet or
more on each side of the shoulder. Other than official traffic control
devices, no signs are allowed in state highway right of way.
Scenic Byway: A
driving route of outstanding beauty, sponsored and promoted by local
citizens, that meets state and national criteria, that is then designated by
the Oregon Transportation Commission as a Byway. No new outdoor advertising
signs are allowed on Byways, although legal ones that existed when the Byway
was first designated are allowed to remain. Oregon’s Scenic Byway
system includes All-American Roads, National Scenic Byways, State Scenic
Byways, and State Tour Routes. All are considered “Byways” for the sake of
Along with all highways so designated by the Oregon Transportation
Commission, “state highway” for sign regulation includes all roads on the
National Highway System (NHS), and all roads that were on the old “Federal
Aid Primary” system (a designation the federal government no longer uses, but
requires the states to use for sign regulation). This means that some
stretches of road that are not identified as “state highway” on usual maps do
fall under state sign regulation.
Temporary Sign: A
small sign up for a short time that is exempt from needing a state permit. To
qualify the sign must be no more that 12 square feet per side, up for no more
than 60 days in a year, not be for compensation, not be on a permanent base,
and must comply with basic safety regulations. A size variance up to 32
square feet, or a time variance up to 90 consecutive days, is possible.
A sign face made up of slats that rotate to show up to three separate images
one at a time. The law requires minimum times the sign must remain still, and
maximum times it may take to rotate. Particular permit requirements
Visible: Capable of being seen.
A sign’s message does not need to be legible for the sign to be ‘visible’
from a state highway, and therefore subject to state sign regulation.