Resources for Local Officials

If you are a local government official – a mayor, planner, city council member, municipal attorney, city manager, on the economic development board, a building inspector or code official – then chances are you've had to deal with your community's sign ordinance. And if you've done any work on a sign ordinance, then you know such work can be extremely complex and even controversial at times.

ISA can help you navigate through the many issues which arise when drafting and enforcing sign ordinances. We have expert staff on hand who are well-versed in the various complexities associated with sign codes. We are happy to provide information and expertise to government officials as needed. Contact David Hickey, VP Advocacy at (703) 836-4012 or [email protected].

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EMCsSign CodesBest PracticesReed DecisionEconomic Development


 Night-time Brightness Level Recommendations for On-Premise Electronic Message Centers
EMC Night-time Brightness Level Recommendations: Updated in August 2016, this EMC brightness guide is based on peer-reviewed research by Dr. Ian Lewin of Lighting Sciences, Inc. Dr. Lewin is a leading lighting expert with over 30 years experience in the lighting industry.

Check out the new version, updated August 2016!

EMCs and Traffic Safety: Texas A&M University's Transportation Engineering School recently conducted exhaustive research on the traffic safety impact of on-premise electronic message centers (EMCs). This research is the first of its kind, and will provide local decision-makers with the fact-based evidence necessary to enact reasonable and beneficial sign codes.

  Digital Signage and Traffic Safety Executive Summary: This executive summary offers a statistical analysis and three key takeaways from the original report. 
  Finding Common Ground: This document provides the latest information on how to properly and effectively regulate electronic message centers (EMCs) so that communities and businesses can benefit.
Differences Between On-Premise and Off-Premise Signs: This chart provides a side-by-side comparison and contrast between on-premise and off-premise signs, which is helpful because each type of sign has very distinct capabilities and purposes, each targets a specific audience and each has traditionally been treated under separate legal and regulatory regimes.
  Examples of EMC Hold Times
These videos demonstrate examples of various EMC hold times. Videos created and provided by Yesco Electronics.

Sign Codes

Model Sign Code - A Framework for On-Premise Sign Regulations
Model Sign Code - A Legal and Technical Exploration of On-Premise Sign Regulations
Signs and Federal Laws of Protection
Building Stronger Communities


Best Practices

Urban Wayfinding - SRF Urban Wayfinding Manual: The Sign Research Foundation has developed a comprehensive guide to urban wayfinding from planning to implementation. This valuable resource explains system financing, design, regulatory issues, and implementation. A sample of the first chapter is provided here and you can receive the full manual by emailing Sapna Budev at [email protected] 

Best Practices in Regulating Temporary Signs (Updated with Reed v. Town of Gilbert Supreme Court Case): Compiled by prominent planner Wendy Moeller, AICP, this guide offers communities assistance in understanding different kinds of temporary signs and best practices for regulating each type.


Reed vs. Town of Gilbert Decision and Legal Issues

The State of Sign Codes After Reed v. Town of Gilbert: View insights on the decision from Professor Alan Weinstein, a national noted planning law expert. Prof. Weinstein holds a joint faculty appointment at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and also serves as Director of the Colleges' Law & Public Policy Program.

Reed v. Town of Gilbert Decision: Resources and insights on the recent Supreme Court decision.

Amortization Explained: View the full explanation here.

Economic Development

University of San Diego Economic Value of Signs
The Economic Value of Signs (2012): The University of Cincinnati's Planning and Business schools recently collaborated to conduct extensive research on the economic value of signs to businesses and communities. This research will provide local sign code officials with the latest information on how signs help businesses communicate with customers, and how communities can benefit from improved economic activity.
 Signs and the Downtown Experience

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