Cave Creek Town Council passes revisions to sign ordinances

CAVE CREEK – After much discussion, public input, revision and legal advice, the Cave Creek Town Council passed updates to the Town’s sign regulations on January 21. The new regulations won’t go into effect until February 20.

The revisions to the sign ordinance were prompted by the Supreme Court Case “Reed vs. the Town of Gilbert,” which ruled that regulating signs based on the content was a violation of free speech. In the wake of this ruling, municipalities across the United States were obliged to take a comprehensive look at their sign ordinances to ensure they were compliant, including Cave Creek.

The Cave Creek Planning Department and Commission along with council members worked on the sign ordinance revisions for approximately 18 months; trying to strike a balance between creating legally sound revisions that also appeased residents and businesses.

The Cave Creek Planning Department will be reaching out to businesses to discuss the updated sign regulations before they go into effect next month. Here is the breakdown for what the code revisions mean for Cave Creek merchants.

For commercial zones:

  • One (1) portable sign is permitted on the property per address, which includes suites/tenants (not within the Town right-of-way). If you are not sure where your property boundary is, contact the Town Planning or Engineering Department or a registered land surveyor. Portable Signs are further addressed in Chapter 9 – Signage, Section 9.4 of the Town Code.
  • A Right-of-Way Permit is required for a sign proposed to be placed within the right-of-way along Carefree Highway or Cave Creek Road. Right-of-way permitting is covered in Chapter 93 of the Town Code.
  • Banners are STILL prohibited unless they are on the building or interior of the property and are not within the parking or landscaped area. For a list of all types of signs that are prohibited by the Town, please refer to the Town Code, Chapter 9 – Signage, Section 9.1.D. Prohibited Signs.

For Realtors and Garage Sales:

  • Non-permanent signs may be placed within Town rights-of-way classified as a minor collector or a local road, (which are all streets other than Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road), and do not require a permit as long as they are not placed in a travel lane, median or driveway. Also, the sign cannot exceed three (3) feet in height or six (6)- square-feet in area, and it can’t be displayed for more than 48 consecutive hours. The use of Town rights-of-way is outlined within Chapter 93 of the Town Code.

For Special Events:

The Town Code was updated to allow for signage used in conjunction with a special event, including revisions that better clarify the definition of a special event and streamline the application process. Additional revisions to the Special Event Chapter can be found in the Town Code Chapter 114.

If you have any questions regarding signage, please contact the Planning Department, Luke Kautzman, at (480) 488-6633 or by email at