Update on Floating Signs in Lake Washington

Seattle is saying no, he cannot float the sign. WSDOT has many more words to the same effect that I’ve included below. We are working with all the mayors surrounding the lake to make sure that this visual blight does not actually occur.

I will continue to post on this issue, and propose legislation in January should it be needed.

WSDOT Comments:

The gentleman who owns the billboard first contacted the Northwest Region bridge office in late April to ask about signage regulations, and was informed by them that as long as he stays out of the right away he would be okay, but we believe there was some confusion about what exactly he was going to be doing.  After seeing the original story our Headquarters Traffic office was in contact with him and has since sent him an official permit application and once the application is received back it will be officially accepted or denied.  Although, based on the zoning of the area, which is not zoned commercial or industrial, it will most likely be denied.

Below is some information about WSDOT’s Highway Advertising Control program.

  • Federal, state, and local governments all regulate advertising signs to some degree. The Federal Highway Beautification Act regulates signs visible from Federal-aid highways (of which all Washington highways are).
  • It’s a regulatory process set forth under the federal act, plus the state’s Scenic Vistas Act (Chapter 47.42 RCW) and Rules and Regulations/Highway Advertising Control Act (Chapter 468-66 WAC).
  • Much of the issue also comes down to speech – government can NOT regulate certain types of speech, but can regulate advertising speech.
  • Key points to remember are signs advertising off-premise services must be permitted and must be in area zoned commercial/industrial.
  • WSDOT is willing and often works with advertisers to make sure the signs they would like to erect or place are within state and federal regulations.

The website with more information and a folio is available here: http://wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Traffic/Signs/default.htm.

Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.

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