LED retrofit of an Edwards Regal Cinema marquis in San Diego

City Permitting Process for Building and Monument Signs

The thought of getting permits for a signage project can be a real pain point for business owners and commercial tenants. It’s easy to understand how complicated a task it is to balance the codes and ordinances set in place by your local government against the rules and requirements of the building owner or property manager while still creating the type of sign you imagine. Add on top of that the need to submit detailed documentation and schedule in-person inspections all within in a specific timeframe and the whole process quickly becomes overwhelming. In many cases, the process and unanswered questions about sign permitting can discourage people from adding or replacing their signage.

At Starfish Signs, we are experts in permitting in southern California and are experienced in navigating the overlapping ordinances from local cities, counties, and municipalities. With our turnkey project management, we make it easy for people to get a new sign by handling the entire process from beginning to end, allowing our clients to stay focused on serving their customers and growing their business


The Permitting Process

While the process varies slightly depending on your local city, county, or municipality, they are general steps to every sign permitting process. Here’s what the basic permitting process consists of:

  1. Review and Discovery—We begin by reviewing the sign program and the scope of the project, making sure to identify all property manager and City requirements. We leave no stone unturned to make sure there aren’t any delays during the process
  2. Proofs for Client Approval—We go to work on developing the sign design and submit the proofs to our clients for approval. Even when being sure to appease the City, we are still committed to making sure our clients are getting everything they want in their new sign.
  3. Property Manager or Building Owner Approval—The next step is getting a signoff from either the property manager or the building owner. This is important because we need this approval, either in writing or by email, in order to get building permits from the City.
  4. Submit Permit Application to the City—Once we have gotten the approval of the client and the signoff from the building owner or property manager, we submit the application to the City. In some cities, we are able to get approval from the City within the same day. Other cities may have a review process that can take 1-2 weeks.  If changes are requested by the City, , we take the necessary steps to make those changes in consultation with our client.
  5. Install Signs—Although technically not part of the permitting process, we know that all signs must be installed exactly as per the permit application.  Our installation technicians are trained to pay attention to all details, and particularly those important details that will be checked during the final inspection.
  6. Final Inspection after Installation—Once the signs have been fully installed, hooked up to the electrical circuit (if illuminated), and the project is complete, we schedule a final inspection with the city inspector.  The inspector checks to ensure that the sign has been built and installed exactly as described in the permit application and accompanying drawings.  And because we’ve done our homework to this point, and paid close attention to all of the project details, the final inspection very rarely encounters any issues, but if there are any changes that need to be made, we handle them. Once the inspector signs off on the job, the permit work is now fully complete.


The permitting process can be a lot to handle. That’s why we take pride our extensive experience, our attention to detail, and our focus on full compliance, we will handle the entire process for our clients, so they can devote their attention to their own businesses.

Want to learn more about getting new signage? Contact us today to get started on your building or monument sign project.