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Downtown Portable Sign Grant Program

portable sign collage idea


The City of Auburn has historic and unique buildings, as well as many wonderful family-owned and compelling businesses. The Downtown Portable Sign Grant Program seeks to create a consistent yet aesthetically pleasing feel of portable (also known as “sandwich board” or A-frame) signs in our Downtown commercial area. These type of signs not only help businesses enhance visibility but are useful as a wayfinding tool and help to reinforce the pedestrian character of the downtown.  

The City has recently instituted new portable sign regulations for downtown.  To assist businesses to observe these regulations, the City has allocated funds to award portable sign grants to businesses within the designated Business Improvement Area (BIA) (PDF).

The Downtown Portable Sign Grant Program is funded through a partnership between the City of Auburn and the Business Improvement Area (BIA) Board.  BIA Board members are comprised of downtown business and property owners.  The city provides funding to the BIA Board who has oversight on how those funds are spent each year.  The city and the BIA Board have agreed to split the grant awards so that 50% of the funding comes from both entities. The program is dependent on annual budgeting by the City and BIA and if not funded, could be discontinued. The goal of the program is to make acquiring an individualized and creative portable sign less expensive and easier for downtown businesses.


Portable signs in Downtown commercial area, specifically the Downtown Urban Center (DUC) zoning district, subject to the standards contained in Auburn City Code (ACC) Section 18.29.060(I)(4) and the Downtown Urban Center Design Standards (PDF) see page 14. One of the eligibility requirements for this program, is your portable sign’s consistency with these standards. These standards are summarized in the Portable Sign Topic Paper (PDF).


The Downtown Portable Sign Program will cover up to $500 of the cost of one portable sign per business per year on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To apply for the grant, a portable sign permit must be submitted to the City. You can apply via The following must be submitted with your application: cost estimate or contractor’s bid, sign drawing, site plan, and indemnification and hold harmless agreement. The portable sign permit must include the size, material, as well as a rendering of the sign design. A sign company can help you design and manufacture your portable sign (local sign companies were involved in the creation of this program).  

Upon submittal, the portable sign application will be reviewed for consistency with standards contained in ACC 18.29.060(I)(4) and the Downtown Urban Center Design Standards. If consistent, the sign will received “preliminary design approval” or “conditional approval”. 

After the sign is constructed, photos of the finished portable sign and updated invoice must be submitted to the City. The resubmittal must be emailed to [email protected] and include the sign permit number (e.g. SGN22-000X). Upon resubmittal, the application will be review to ensure that the sign was constructed as proposed. If approved, the sign application will received “final product approval” and grant funds will be issued. Please be advised that the grant funds will be provided in the form of a reimbursement to the applicant listed on the portable sign permit application. A sign permit company may apply for the portable sign permit on your behalf.

How much of the sign cost the City will cover? 

Category I Signaçade (plastic sign with frame and inserts) – You will be responsible for the first $200 then the City will pay up to $100 and you will be responsible for the remaining balance. 

Category II Wood Sign – You will be responsible for the first $100 then the City will pay up to $300 and you will be responsible for the remaining balance.

Category III Special/Custom Sign (includes metal signs, the use of chalkboard, etc.) – You will be responsible for the first $100, then the City will pay up to $500, and you will be responsible for the remaining balance. 
For example, if you choose to go with a custom sign with a chalkboard, and the total cost of the design and sign is $750, your total out-of-pocket would be $250.

The business must meet the following requirements:

  • The business must be within the designated Business Improvement Area (BIA) (PDF), and
  • All BIA assessments fees for years prior to 2022 must be paid, and
  • Must have a current City of Auburn Business License, and 
  • If on private property must include have private property owners’ authorization, and 
  • Proposed sign must meet the portable sign requirements contained in ACC 18.29.060(I)(4), the Downtown Design Standards, and must follow all local and state laws.
Applications may be submitted any time at Applications will be received and reviewed on an ongoing basis subject to annual funding basis, so keep this in mind as you prepare your submissions. Later in the year, funding may no longer be available.

Further questions? Contact City of Auburn Planning Services at [email protected]. Please put the nature of your inquiry in the subject line, and include the parcel number or address of the business and include your contact information in the email.