Proposing Changes to Monte Sereno’s Sign Ordinance

Monte Sereno does not allow signs to be posted within the city boundaries.  The ordinance prohibits all signs and then allows five exceptions.

We would like a sixth exception so we can have a sign showing the ‘green’ features of our Eichler.  This will help to educate others in our community and we will meet the requirements for Awareness and Education (AE 1.3).


Bryan addressed our City Council meeting several months ago, showing the City Council that other communities allow signs in front of LEED-H homes outlining their energy saving and other features.  Council directed Bryan to work the City Manager, Brian Loventhal, on proposing changes to the sign ordinance.

LEED-H Awareness & Education

Awareness & Education 1.3 states:

Display LEED for Homes signage, measuring six square feet or more, on the exterior of the home or building.

All of the homes pursuing Platinum certification in the Bay Area that we have toured have been able to put signs in front of their homes during construction.  Awareness and Education points are easy to achieve, relative to some of the other points available.

Examples of Signs in Front of LEED-H Homes Seeking Platinum Certification

Bryan has visited a number of homes in the Bay Area pursing Platinium certification under the LEED for Homes program.  These visits have included the Margarido House in Oakland (certified), 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto (under construction), and the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino (under construction).  Each of these homes have signs.

Sign in front of the Margarido House in Oakland.

Sign in front of the Margarido House in Oakland.

Sign in front of the Christiansen Pierret Residence at 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto.

Sign in front of the Christiansen Pierret Residence at 2180 Bryant Street in Palo Alto.

Sign in front of the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino.

Sign in front of the Kaneda Residence in Cupertino.

 City of Monte Sereno’s Sign Ordinance 10.13.010

Monte Sereno’s sign ordinance is as follows:

10.13.010 Signs, permits, scenic corridor exception.

No sign, billboard, poster, pennant, flag or display unit shall be erected, displayed, established or maintained within five hundred (500) feet of any road, highway, street or public place within the boundaries of the City except as otherwise provided herein.

A. One non-illuminated sign may be erected on each street frontage for any lot or building which serves solely to advertise the sale, lease or rental of or an offer to build to suit on the premises where the sign is located, provided the sign does not exceed six (6) square feet in area in a residential zone. This exemption is only available when all or part of the premises is actually available for the transaction advertised.

B. Non-illuminated, off-site, portable signs directing customers to the location of an open house which is for sale are permitted, unlimited in total number, but limited to one double faced sign per corner of an intersection or on a privately owned parcel. The signs shall not exceed an area of one (1) square foot per face and shall not be more than four (4) feet high. Open house signs shall contain no individual, or individual company advertising. Prior permission shall be obtained from the property owner if the sign is to be placed on a privately owned parcel. The signs shall be removed each day after the closing of the open house. Open house signs are an exception to the rule prohibiting off-premises signs and signs on public property.

C. The owner, occupant or resident of any property may erect and maintain without obtaining any permit one sign giving his name and address at his mailbox and one additional sign upon said property, neither of which shall be more than three (3) square feet in area.

D. Within the scenic corridor defined by the State of California upon designation of the Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, State sign Route 9, as an Official State Scenic Highway, only those signs allowed in Subsections A, B and C or existing on-premise signs as provided for in Subsection E shall be permitted.

E. Any existing on-premise sign lawfully established on or before the effective date of this Chapter may be maintained for a period of not to exceed three (3) months from the passage of this Chapter during which period the owner shall either remove the sign or make application for and receive a permit for the said sign under the provisions of this Chapter.

We drafted a sixth exemption and submitted it to the City of Monte Sereno today.  Our proposed wording is:

F. One non-illuminated sign may be erected on each street frontage for any building where such sign serves solely to describe the environmentally friendly features of the building materials and construction practices that follow a recognized national, State of California or local building environmental certification program provided the building has been registered under that recognized building environmental certification program. Signs allowed under this exemption shall contain no individual or individual company advertising.

The City Manager, Brian Loventhal, reviewed the proposed language and thought it was a good start.  He suggested that the certification program could be one recognized by the City of Monte Sereno, since the City has formally recognized Build It Green and LEED for Homes.  Also, he asked whether there should be a maximum size included in the ordinance.

Next Steps

Brian Loventhal will work on the wording and have this item included on the agenda at a City Council meeting in the next 60 days.

We will follow up on this.

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