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The City of Walnut Creek has a reputation as a community of natural beauty, distinctive architecture and historic tradition.  Signs have a strong visual impact on the character and quality of the community.  As a prominent part of the scenery, they attract or repel the viewing public, affect the safety of vehicular traffic, and their suitability or appropriateness helps to set the tone of the neighborhood.

Since the City relies on its scenery and physical beauty to attract commerce, aesthetic considerations assume economic value.  It is the intent to protect and enhance the City's historic and residential character and its economic base through the provision of appropriate and aesthetic signing.  In addition, it is the intent of the City to limit the size, type and location of signs in order to minimize their distracting effect on drivers and thereby improve traffic safety.

Permits Required

A sign permit is required to erect, move, alter, replace, or change the copy on any sign. Refer to our popular "How to Obtain a Sign Permit [PDF]" handout for general information. For specific information refer to the Sign Ordinance.  Second, a building permit to install the sign maybe required. The building permit can only be issued to the property owner, owner's authorized agent, or the sign contractor. Authorized agents must have a signed letter from the owner acknowledging the applicant's proposed work. Lastly, signs installed over the sidewalk or any work over the public right of way will require an encroachment permit.


In addition to dimensions, colors, elevations and other details, plans submitted for building permit must also contain the items listed in Submittal Requirements for SIGNS [PDF] (IB - 010).  

Sign Program

A sign program is an adopted set of design criteria and standards for the design, fabrication, and installation of business signs for a specific site, property, or area. Check the Sign Programs Index to determine if a site, property, or area has an approved sign program. 

Design Tips & Design Guidelines

Review the City's design tips and guidelines related to signs.

Other Signs

  • Street Address Numbers - Street address numbers for residential projects need to be at least 4 inches in height on a contrasting background.  The numbers should be installed at street level to allow emergency personnel to easily find your home or business. 
  • Flags - Flags of national or governmental origin are exempt from review provided they do not create a public safety hazard. Commercial flags containing a company name or logo count towards allowable sign area and are subject to the City's discretionary review process. 
  • Political Signs - Review the political sign information sheet [PDF] for the placement and installation of election-related signs.
  • Real Estate Signs, Commercial & Residential - Review the Sign Ordinance for the placement and time limits related to these types of signs.

Sign Exceptions

An exception to the Sign Ordinance or sign program requirements may be requested at anytime. However, the Design Review Commission must make specific findings in order to grant an exception. Deviations from corporate sign programs or corporate brandings maybe required.