New Restaurant Sign Twice the Size Allowed on Square

By Ross Hunter

There’s a HARC extended meeting happening today, this afternoon at 4:30. That’s about 4 hours from now, I don’t expect people to be able to attend, but if you can come down to show support please do.

The meeting is an extension of last Thursday’s meeting. Note that it’s NOT in Council Chambers. It’s in the Georgetown Municipal Complex located at 300-1 Industrial Ave, in the Williamson Conference Room.

The Staff Report on the issue is available below.


Briefly, a new restaurant on the Square to replace the Loading Dock space wants a V-shaped sign sticking out from the wall. This is quite acceptable, but the applicant has misunderstood the design requirements in computing the square footage of the sign. The owner uses the width of one of the two sides as the total width, when code calls for using both sides. The result is that the owner is applying for a Certificate of Design Compliance from HARC with a sign that is actually twice the size allowed.

City Staff compounded the error by ignoring or being unaware of Georgetown’s laws on how to calculate signage area, and they blindly followed the applicant’s error in their Staff Report. Apparently HARC caught this on Thursday and extended the meeting to today to reconsider. Even so, there is some opinion among some of the HARC members to allow this error to proceed anyway, setting an incredibly bad precedent of ignoring City law. This must be stopped.

UDC says the area of a multi-face sign SHALL be computed by adding all sides together. The Downtown Design Guidelines say the size of an awning or canopy sign SHALL be calculated by its actual area. Whichever of the sources you look to, the command is the same.

HARC should reject this application, but what will actually happen is unknown, part of the great adventure of living with an increasingly incompetent City staff.


With reference to the Staff Report –

CDC Application, Staff Report
Page 1, paragraph 2 of the Proposal says:
“Together, the two faces will measure 72 inches wide by 53 inches high, totaling 26.5 square feet.”

Page 3 cites the Design Guidelines as follows:
Guideline 9.9 – Awning and Canopy signs may be considered.

  • Canopy signs are common along the Square, especially along Austin Avenue.
  • This style of canopy sign is not common but has been approved before. Just to the south, the Williamson Museum was recently approved for the same v -shaped style of signage, although their sign is attached to the facade of the building rather than directly to a canopy .
  • Measurement for a canopy sign is treated the same way as a flush-mounted wall sign. One square foot of signage for every linear foot of facade. With this sign however, each face is not directly facing the street and is at an angle. By looking at the overhead view of where the canopy sign will be located staff considers its total size appropriate for the size of the building, the canopy and it’s location along a road with a high traffic volume.
  • This style of sign, although not common, appears appropriate for this building because of the Austin Avenue location and the large canopy.

and the applicant’s exhibits –

Applicant’s letter on Page 6, signed by Thomas Hobbs, speaks of an “overall length” of 72 inches and thus calls the total area 26.5 square feet, derived from 53 x 72 inches.

Page 8 diagram clearly shows the sign made of two rectangular faces, each separate face being 72 inches width (or length if you prefer).

Total area is twice the amount stated, following the method of computation mandated by both Design Guidelines and UDC.

Reference the Downtown Design Guidelines:

Downtown Design Guidelines
Design Guidelines for Signs
9.9 Awning and canopy signs may be considered.
• An awning or canopy sign shall not exceed one square feet for every one foot of facade width. In no case should an awning or canopy sign exceed the size of the awning or canopy surface to which it is applied.
• The size of an awning or canopy sign shall be calculated by its actual area and shall be included in the calculation for total allowable building signage.
• Consider mounting a sign centered on top of a building canopy where a flush-mounted sign would obscure architectural details.

Reference the UDC:

Chapter 10.06.020.B: Computation of Area of Multi-faced Signs
The sign area for a sign with more than one face shall be computed by adding together the area of all sign faces visible from any one point. When two identical sign faces are placed back to back, so that both faces cannot be viewed from any point at the same time, and when such sign faces are substantially similar, and when such sign faces are part of the same sign structure the sign area shall be computed by the measurement of one of the faces.


HARC agenda


Design Guidelines

Staff Report to HARC [PDF File]




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