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A. Any sign which does not conform to the sign standards within this chapter, for which a permit was issued by Pierce County prior to February 28, 1996, and which was constructed, erected, and maintained in compliance with applicable Pierce County regulations shall be regarded as a legal nonconforming sign; excluding those signs that are prohibited under LMC 18A.100.040, Prohibited signs.

B. Nonconforming Sign Permits. Changes to nonconforming signs, as allowed pursuant to this chapter, shall be permitted by documenting the nature and extent of the change using a sign permit.

C. Any legal nonconforming sign which is structurally altered, relocated, or replaced shall immediately be brought into compliance with all of the provisions of this title, excluding the repair, and/or restoration of a sign to a safe condition. Normal maintenance shall be permitted on any part of a sign or sign structure without loss of nonconforming status. Sign face changes that do not result in an increase of the nonconformity shall be allowed, except as specifically prohibited in this chapter.

D. Billboards. The following requirements shall pertain to all billboards located within the City:

1. The total number of billboard faces within the City of Lakewood shall not exceed the total number of billboard faces existing on the date of incorporation of the City.

2. The demolition or removal of any billboard face reduces the number of allowable billboard faces by the number removed.

3. In the event that the City of Lakewood annexes areas containing billboards after the date of incorporation, the total number of allowable billboard faces shall be increased by the number of faces existing in such areas on the effective date of annexation.

4. Any billboard sign in existence on the date of incorporation, or on the effective date of annexation, shall be considered nonconforming.

5. Removal or demolition of a billboard shall require the issuance of a demolition permit for the removal of the existing billboard. Billboard removal or demolition shall be completed within ninety (90) days of demolition permit issuance.

6. Billboards shall not be altered or modified, except for the following:

a. Ordinary and necessary maintenance and repairs that do not change the size, shape, orientation, height, or location of billboards shall not require a zoning certification, but may require a building permit. Billboard copy replacement may occur at any time and is exempt from the requirement for permits.

b. Billboards that have any projections that extend more than three (3) feet out from the surface of the billboard face shall not be modified, except to remove or reduce such projections.

c. Billboards that contain, include, or are illuminated by any flashing, intermittent, or moving lights shall not be altered or modified, except to remove or reduce such lights. Billboards shall not include lighting unless it is effectively shielded so that the light is directed to the billboard face and prevents beams or rays of light from being directed at any portion of the traveled ways of the highway or airways, or is of such low intensity or brilliance as not to cause glare or to impair the vision of the driver of any motor vehicle. Billboards found to have excessive illumination, at the sole discretion of the City, shall be modified in accordance with the City’s instructions. Exterior lighting shall comply with LMC 18A.60.095.

E. Removal Required for Nonconforming Signs.

1. The following situations will require removal of existing nonconforming signs:

a. In conjunction with any administrative use permit, conditional use permit, variance, subdivision, change in use, or building permit application for an expansion or alteration (including new structures) on the property on which the sign is located, where the cost of the expansion, alteration, or new construction is greater than twenty-five (25) percent of the value of the existing structure(s) on the site. This calculation shall include cumulative value, adjusted for inflation, of all expansions, alterations, and new construction initiated since incorporation of the City.

b. Within ninety (90) days of the demolition or destruction of any portion of a building containing the use to which a nonconforming sign is accessory, where the value of that portion of the building is greater than fifty (50) percent of the appraised value of the entire building.

c. Within ninety (90) days of damage of the sign by catastrophic events, such as earthquakes, floods and wind, vandalism, fire or other casualty such that the cost of repair and restoration of the sign, to the same or a more conforming design, exceeds fifty (50) percent of the cost of replacing the sign with a conforming sign. The Building Official may require that such sign be removed or repaired in less than ninety (90) days if the sign is deemed to be an immediate danger to the public.

d. Upon notice by the City that the sign is in a state of disrepair, is unsafe, or may become a danger to the public, providing the costs of repair and restoration of the sign exceeds fifty (50) percent of the cost of replacing the sign with a conforming sign.

e. Upon notice by the City that the sign constitutes a traffic hazard.

F. Any signs not removed within the time limit specified in subsection (E) of this section, or as otherwise ordered by the City, shall be deemed a public nuisance, subject to the removal provisions of this chapter, and shall be removed by the City if the sign owner or property owner fails to do so after being so ordered by the Community Development Director. Costs, including administrative and indirect costs of said removal, shall be borne by the sign and/or property owner and may be recovered by the City, if necessary, by placing a lien on the property from which the sign has been removed. [Ord. 726 § 2 (Exh. B), 2019.]