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Sign code revisions affect businesses and residents

Post Date:09/06/2016 3:15 p.m.

The Littleton City Council approved amendments to the city code July 19 that affect the content and placement of signs on private and public property throughout the city. The amendments were based on several factors including a recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision and completion of the Downtown Littleton Wayfinding and Signage Program.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the Reed v. Gilbert, Arizona case. The decision confirmed that governments cannot regulate the content of signs due to the First Amendment, but determined that governments can establish regulations regarding placing signs on private property and city property, including public rights of way.

While there is no longer any distinction regarding the message on a sign whether it be political, religious, real estate, retail or other types, placing signs on public property is still prohibited. This includes sidewalks, streets, medians, parks, and on utility poles and boxes. The placement of signs on city property has always been prohibited and enforced on a complaint basis. Portable signs and sandwich boards on the publicly-owned sidewalks impede pedestrian movement and ADA accessibility.

With the sign code update and installation of the side street merchant signs in downtown Littleton, code enforcement staff will take a more proactive position on enforcement of signs in the rights of way beginning January 1, 2017. Portable signs and sandwich boards on sidewalks in Littleton are not allowed. Restaurants and retailers have been noted on blades on the side streets. As openings become available restaurant and retail business owners may apply for a blade at no charge, on a first come, first serve basis on the city website at

Signs are allowed on private property, both commercial and residential, however the type, size and length of time they may be erected may be regulated to maintain consistency and public safety. Further outreach will be made to businesses in the downtown district within the next two weeks.

Code enforcement specialists are available to answer questions by calling 303-795-3751.

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