There is a shared regulatory responsibility for signage in the District: DDOT regulates and permits signs on public space; the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) regulates and permits signs on private property; and the Office of Planning (OP) reviews signage in specific identified areas of the District.
Under the DDOT Establishment Act, DDOT shall establish and regulate the placement of signs, advertisements, and posters in public space, or on public space fixtures, in a way that promotes the safety and recreational value of public travel, as well as preserves the natural aesthetics of the District's public space. DDOT shall encourage high standards of signage throughout the District, particularly for signs that designate landmarks, historic districts, and other areas of civic importance. DDOT shall review and approve public space permit requests for private uses within public rights-of-way, and may enter into agreements to allow the placement of advertisements on District property, under the control of DDOT, in public space, and collect payments under the agreements. (DDOT Establishment Act, D.C. Code § 50-921.04).
In October of 2011, Mayor Vincent Gray, issued Mayor's Order 2011-181, establishing a multi-agency working group comprised of representatives from six agencies and chaired by DDOT, to review the District's sign rules and provide advice on proposed revisions. In February 2015,
new sign regulations were proposed covering practically all signs
visible from a street or sidewalk, including business identification signs,
billboards, election signs and signs on vehicles. The comment period for
these regulations ended in May 2015. The working group is reviewing these
comments before moving forward with the rulemaking process. The proposed
regulations would consolidate all existing sign regulations pertaining to
signage in one single location: a new Title 13 of the DC Municipal Regulations
Until the Mayor's issuance of a comprehensive final rulemaking governing signs, DDOT's establishment and regulation of the placement of signs, advertisements, and posters in public space, or on public space fixtures, apply under the Department of Transportation Establishment Act of2002, effective May 21, 2002 (D.C. Law 14-137; D.C. Official Code§ 50- 921.04). (D.C. Act 19-656).
Procedures & Services
The restrictions, time limits, and procedures for displaying signs of any nature in public space are detailed in DCMR 24-108: Signs, Posters, and Placards.
No signs or posters placed upon public street light poles may relate to the sale of goods or services, nor may any banner or seasonal display promote or advertise a specific business, product, or service.
No person shall place, maintain, or display upon or in view of any highway any unauthorized sign which hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of any official traffic control device or any railroad sign or signal.