CHAPTER 14-1600. MISCELLANEOUS
§14-1604.1. Special Sign Controls for Area Surrounding the Vine Street Parkway and Benjamin Franklin Bridge Approach. 
(1) Legislative Findings. The Council finds
(a) Major public and private investments have been made and
continue to be made in the Vine Street Parkway and surrounding areas to improve
traffic safety, enhance visual aesthetics, preserve nearby historic and cultural
districts, prevent declining property values and encourage economic investment,
tourism and the economic vitality of Philadelphia and, in particular, Center
City. To date, these public and private expenditures represent a combined
investment totalling over one billion ($1,000,000,000)
(b) Public expenditures have included appropriations for
improved vehicular access, street and sidewalk improvements and landscaping.
Also, massive reconstruction of the roadway and bridges comprising the Vine
Street Parkway has been initiated in a joint effort by local, State and Federal
government agencies. When completed, this five-year project will convert the
Parkway into a modern state of the art access road on the Federal Interstate
(c) Private investments within or immediately adjacent
to this area include the Market Street East improvements, the proposed Center
City Convention Center, the Gallery shopping complex, Franklintown, the
rehabilitation and restoration of Chinatown and nearby residential neighborhoods
and the construction of new office building complexes.
(d) The present
and future investments have and will continue to raise the ambiance and overall
appearance of the Vine Street Parkway to that of such parallel roadways as the
Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Roosevelt Boulevard and will increase the
Parkway’s prominence as a major gateway to the City and its historic,
cultural and commercial districts.
(e) Consistent with its function as
a major gateway to and from the City, traffic studies, commissioned by the City
Planning Commission, indicate that immediately prior to the commencement of
reconstruction, traffic volume on the Vine Street Parkway averaged eighty
thousand (80,000) vehicles per day. Following the completion of construction,
this already heavy volume is expected to increase to an estimated one hundred
twenty thousand (120,000) vehicles per day.
(f) Within this area, there
are a number of unsightly signs, including non-accessory outdoor advertising
signs, which detract from the aesthetic beauty of the area, contribute to visual
clutter and jeopardize public safety by distracting passing motorists and
(g) Within this area, there are currently approximately
seventy-eight (78) non-accessory outdoor advertising signs. Of this total,
approximately twenty-five (25) are non-conforming signs under other provisions
of this Title. Despite provisions of this Title which encourage the
discontinuance of non-conforming uses, very few outdoor advertising signs have
(h) There are few, if any, circumstances under which the
prohibition of these signs will render property valueless, result in unnecessary
hardship or otherwise meet the criteria for a variance stated in Section
(i) Regulation and removal of signs will promote traffic
safety in the area by eliminating the hazards to pedestrians and motorists posed
by distracting and confusing sign displays.
(j) Regulation and removal
of signs will enhance the aesthetic beauty of this area by promoting signs that
are harmonious with the streetscape and eliminating signs which dominate or
obscure views of the City.
(k) Regulation and removal of signs will
protect the public and private investment in this area and promote the economic
development and commercial revitalization of this area and nearby historic,
cultural and commercial districts.
(l) Circumstances similar to those
described above have caused Council to bar most outdoor advertising and
non-accessory signs along and/or within the following: the major gateway
approaches and bridges leading to Center City; the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
the Southwark and Mainstreet Manayunk National Historic Districts; and nine (9)
commercial revitalization areas located throughout the
(m) Therefore, special sign controls providing for the removal of
unsightly, distracting signs and setting forth the requirements for acceptable
signage are required to promote traffic safety, protect view corridors, minimize
sight pollution and protect the historic, cultural, aesthetic and economic
vitality of this area.
(2) Definitions. In this Section, the
following definitions shall apply:
(a) Accessory Sign. A sign
containing copy which directs attention to information, identification or
advertisements strictly incidental to a lawful use of the premises on which the
sign is located. This includes signs or devices indicating the business
transacted, services rendered, goods sold or produced on the premises and the
name or emblem of the person, firm, institution, organization, or activity
occupying the premises.
(b) Building Logo Sign. An accessory
sign containing copy limited to an identification of the building on which the
sign is located, including corporate logos, building names, company names or
(c) Non-Commercial Sign. A sign containing copy
limited to a lawful message that does not relate primarily to the economic
interests of the publisher or its audience or direct attention to a business,
industry, profession or commodity, product or service offered for
(3) Vine Street Parkway Area.
(a) For the purposes
of this ordinance, the Vine Street Parkway area shall be that bounded by: the
south side of Spring Garden street, projected to the pierhead line of the
Delaware River and projected to the pierhead line of the Schuylkill River; the
pierhead line of the Schuylkill River to the north side of Race street; the
north side of Race street, from the pierhead line of the Schuylkill River
projected to the pierhead line of the Delaware River; and the pierhead line of
the Delaware River to the south side of Spring Garden street.
sign shall be erected or altered on any building, structure or land located
within the Vine Street Parkway area unless the sign complies with the special
sign controls stated in this Section.
(4) Existing Sign Controls.
For the purposes of this Section, when sign controls on any building, structure
or upon any land located within the Vine Street Parkway area are more
restrictive through other provisions of this Title, this Section shall not be
interpreted as superseding those provisions.
(5) Signs Controls.
All signs as defined by Section 14-102(86)(a) to (l) shall be prohibited on any
building, structure or upon any land located within the Vine Street Parkway
area, except as follows:
(a) Flat wall accessory and flat wall
non-commercial signs shall be permitted at a ratio of two (2) square feet of
sign area per lineal foot of street frontage. The top of such flat wall signs
shall not extend above the bottom of the second floor of the building on which
it is located.
(b) Accessory and non-commercial signs which are
free-standing structures on the ground shall be permitted at a height not to
exceed fifteen (15) feet, measured from the average level of the ground to the
top of said structure. Free-standing signs shall be permitted a maximum of two
(2) sign facings and a maximum of sixteen (16) square feet for each sign
(c) Building logo signs and non-commercial signs which are
located above the bottom of the second floor shall be permitted upon approval by
the Art Commission; provided, that the Art Commission shall have sixty (60) days
to take action after which its approval shall be presumed. The approval of the
Art Commission must take into account the impact of the proposed signage on the
skyline and view corridors of Center City and the visual aesthetics of the area.
Any sign contrary to the goals and objectives of this Ordinance shall be
(d) Within the area bounded by the west side of Ninth
street, the south side of Winter street, the east side of Eleventh street, and
the north side of Race street, projecting accessory and projecting
non-commercial signs shall be permitted at a ratio of two (2) square feet of
sign area per lineal foot of street frontage. Such signs are in addition to the
signs permitted in paragraphs (5)(a) through (5)(c). Such projecting signs shall
be subject to Art Commission approval as required by law.
directional signs as defined in Section 14-102(86)(c) shall be
(f) Temporary signs providing notice to the public that a
property is for sale or for rent shall be permitted so long as such signs do not
exceed a total gross area of twenty-five (25) square feet. Temporary
non-commercial signs of equivalent size shall also be
(6) Grace Period to Remove Prohibited
(a) Any sign in existence which does not conform to this
Section shall be required to be removed five (5) years after the effective date
of this Ordinance; provided, that in the case of signs subject to the Federal
Highway Beautification Act, as amended, 23 U.S.C. Section 131 and the State
Outdoor Advertising Control Act of 1971, as amended, 36 P.S. Section 2718.101 et
seq., in the event such Acts are amended following the passage of this
Ordinance, the five (5) year grace period may be shortened or extended in
conformity with those Acts. It is further provided that no sign subject to the
aforementioned Federal and State Acts shall be required to be removed until such
time as compensation as defined by those Acts is no longer required thereby.
Thereafter, such signs shall be removed without compensation to any interested
party in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.
in this subsection is intended to prohibit the Department of Licenses and
Inspections from removing a sign at any time without compensation which has been
determined to be a public nuisance or unlawfully in existence under any other
provision of The Philadelphia Code.
(7) Continuance of Prohibited
signs During Grace Period. Within the grace period provided in subsection
(6), a prohibited sign shall be maintained in good condition, but it shall not
be structurally altered so as to enlarge or extend the area or height of the
sign. However, no prohibited sign shall be reconstructed if for any reason it
becomes necessary to replace the entire sign, including the sign face, the frame
and any supporting mechanism, but excluding the
(8) Prohibition of Pending Permits. No permit shall
be issued for any sign which will be subject to the provisions of this Section
after December 15, 1987, the date Bill No. 1252, predecessor to this
legislation, was voted favorably out of the Rules Committee of City Council,
following advertisement in two (2) local newspapers of general
(9) Enforcement. Whenever any sign is erected,
altered, used or maintained in violation of this Section, the Department of
Licenses and Inspections shall have the authority to enforce and direct
compliance with the provisions of this Section as provided in Section
(10) Penalties. In addition to any other sanction or
remedial procedure provided, the penalty for violation of any provision of this
Section shall be a fine not exceeding one hundred fifty ($150.00) dollars for
each offense, and may include imprisonment not exceeding thirty (30) days if the
fine is not paid within ten (10) days. Continuous violation of the same
provision shall be a separate violation for each
(11) Severability. If any provision, sentence, clause,
section or part of this Ordinance is for any reason found to be
unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such unconstitutionality, illegality or
invalidity shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions,
sentences, clauses, sections or parts of this Ordinance. It is the intent of the
City Council that this Ordinance would have been adopted had such
unconstitutional, illegal or invalid provision, sentence, clause, section or
part thereof not been included herein.