Arlington, VA

The Arlington County Board is expected to advertise two public hearings on changes to the county’s sign ordinance on Saturday.

The proposed changes, which have been in the works since the beginning of the year, include:

  • Permitting temporary sidewalk “A-frame” signs
  • Permitting logos on umbrellas within sidewalk cafes
  • Permitting coordinated public parking signs near parking garages

A-frame signs are currently verboten under the county’s sign ordinance — a rule that has led to conflicts between county zoning personnel and local business owners. Under the proposed changes, A-frame signs would be allowed without a permit for “all businesses that provide goods and services to the public,” as long as the sign is no more than 3.5 feet high and as long as a minimum 6-foot clear passageway is maintained on the sidewalk.

Similarly, branded sidewalk cafe umbrellas — currently prohibited under most circumstances — would be allowed without a permit as long as it’s within an approved sidewalk cafe. Wrote county staff: “The proposed amendment would allow up to four square feet of each umbrella… to be used for commercial messages related to the business and/or products sold there, and thus allow outdoor cafes to create their own identity and contribute to neighborhood character.”

The parking sign change would allow a more uniform system of way-finding for parking garages in Arlington. A pilot program in Rosslyn has allowed such signs since 2008. County officials consider the program a success, and are recommending it be extended to the entire county.

“An effective parking way-finding program can reduce congestion by eliminating unnecessary travel by lost motorists,” staff wrote.

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