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To apply for a residential solar permit, please fill out the solar permit application, then call Building and Safety at 661-267-5353 for information on submitting plans.
Building and Safety is located at 38250 Sierra Hwy., Palmdale, CA 93550.
The following list includes items/documents that may be required by Business License before a business license can be issued. Bold items indicate that special conditions are required or the activity is prohibited when working out of the home.
Doing Business As
The requirements to establish a new business in the City vary by the type and location of the business. You will need to verify the zoning, building, and license requirements applicable to your business. Zoning information is available with the Planning Division located at 38250 Sierra Highway or at 661-267-5200. Business License information is available at 38250 Sierra Highway or at 661-267-5434.
Staff is available to answer your questions by telephone from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. City staff recommends a careful check of the location's zoning, parking, permitted uses, and Building and Safety records before you buy or lease the property to establish a business. This assures you that the business is allowed in the zone, that development requirements are met, and that no known code violations exist on the property preventing investment of time and money in a site which will not meet your needs.
To establish a business in your home, you will need a Home Occupation Permit (HOP) approved by Planning. Businesses may be conducted out of a residence provided they meet certain requirements. In order to protect other residents in a neighborhood, any business operated out of a home must not change the appearance of the house, attract commercial traffic, or involve outdoor operations or storage.
A Zoning Clearance - Occupancy Review Form is required prior to a business being established in an existing building in any commercial/industrial zone in the City. Zoning clearances are approved by Planning and Building & Safety. This is an in-person procedure and is usually handled at the time the form is submitted. However, staff may have to retain the form if additional research or site inspections are needed. Changing the use of a building from one type of use to another (for example, from retail sales to a restaurant) may require additional permits and/or modifications to the site.
Verification & Requirements
Planning verifies that the General Plan and Zoning designations for the location permit the establishment of your business at the site you have chosen. They also verify that parking, access, and signage meet City standards. Building & Safety reviews their building permit files to confirm that there are no outstanding building permits and that the building is safe for the business requesting a permit.
They may also require additional paperwork/permits from other permitting agencies, such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Health Department, Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD), and Los Angeles County Sanitation District. Fees vary for inspections. You may contact Building & Safety at 661-267-5353 for more information regarding fees and special permits.
If you are doing business in the City of Palmdale, you are required to have a business license. This includes businesses located outside of the City and single-family rentals.
Yes, a business license is required if you are renting your home or even a room.
You can apply for a Seller’s Permit online with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration or by phone at 800-400-7115.
Filing for a DBA is a two-step process:
Business licenses are non-transferable. If you sell your business, it is your responsibility to notify our office so your license may be closed. The new owner must apply for a new license in his/her name.
Every business operating from residential premises within the City is required to have a Home Occupation Permit and comply with all applicable provisions of the Palmdale Municipal Code relating to home-based businesses. Home businesses must apply for and receive an approved Home Occupation Permit before they apply and pay for their Business License. Planning approves these permits. For information on obtaining a Home Occupation Permit, please contact Planning at 661-267-5229.
Become a new vendor by registering on the City's website: New vendor registration.
Full specifications and plans are available on Planet Bids. If you are a registered vendor with the commodity needed for the project, you will automatically be sent an email informing you of the opportunity.
Bids must be submitted in a sealed envelope at the date and time specified for the project bid. During the bid opening, each bid will be reviewed for specific proposal documents.
Bids must contain specific proposal documents or they will be disqualified. These proposal documents typically include:
You may request a plan holder's list for a specific project from our office and contact those companies directly. Call Public Works at 661-267-5300 for more information.
After inspections are deemed complete, the project manager files a staff report for Acceptance of the Completed Capital Project. Once accepted by City Council as complete, a Notice of Completion (NOC) is filed with the County Recorder's office.
The project manager's responsibility is to understand and apply legal, technical and customer requirements for public works projects.
The project manager guides the project through legal review and design in the planning stage; through the construction process from the selection of the contractor to submitting the project to City Council for award; construction monitoring and record keeping; and finally through the City Council for the Acceptance of the Completed Capital Project.
No. The City Attorney is legally prohibited from representing individuals in private legal matters. Attorneys in the office only represent City officials, departments, agencies and employees in the course of their official acts or business.
For general questions or seeking legal representation, call the Antelope Valley Self-Help Legal Access Center at 800-433-6251, or the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) at 213-627-2727 or visit the LACBA website.
The City Attorney is appointed by the Palmdale City Council. The attorneys in the office provide legal advice and services to the City Council, its officials, departments, employees, boards and commissions. The City Attorney enforces the City Municipal Codes.
The District Attorney is an elected County official who investigates and prosecutes criminal activities throughout Los Angeles County sections of the Antelope Valley. To contact the District Attorney or Antelope Valley Field Office, call 661-974-7700.
Under the Palmdale Municipal Code, the City Manager and the City Attorney are each directly appointed by the City Council and serve at the pleasure of the Council. The City Attorney also provides legal advice and support for all City officers and employees relating to their acts which are within the course and scope of their employment or official duties.
Visit the Palmdale Municipal Code website.
Reports or complaints concerning criminal activity occurring in the City should be made to the Sheriff’s Department by calling 661-272-2400. If the matter is an emergency, call 911.
For municipal code violations, please call Code Enforcement at 661-267-5234. If you are unsure about a code violation, you may call the City’s main number at 661-267-5115 and they will direct your call.
To file a claim against the City, you must submit the claim, either by mail or by personal delivery, within six months of the date of the incident to:City Clerk38300 Sierra HighwayPalmdale, CA 93550
You may contact the City Clerk to have a claim form mailed to you, you can pick one up in the Administration office, or you may download the Claims Form (PDF).
Public Records Requests may be submitted by regular U.S. mail, email or personal delivery at the City Administration building to the attention of:City Clerk38300 Sierra HighwayPalmdale, CA 93550
You may contact the City Clerk’s office to obtain a Public Records Request form by calling 661-267-5151, or you can obtain the form on the City Clerk’s or City Attorney’s webpage. There may be a charge for copies provided (hard copy, CD or DVD).
No. All commercial cannabis operations currently prohibited in the City of Palmdale.
For housing rights issues (e.g., landlord/tenant disputes, discrimination) contact the Housing Rights Center at 800-477-5977 or visit their website.
If you were born in Los Angeles County, you may visit the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk website or call 800-201-8999.
If you were not born in Los Angeles County, please contact the Office of Vital Records for the county in which you were born.
For a copy of your divorce decree, visit the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse website or call 661-483-5536.
To pay your property tax, visit the Los Angeles County Tax Assessors website or call 661-940-6700.
To invite City Council members to an event, please complete the City Council Invitation Form.
Councilmember District 1, Austin Bishop, email@example.com
Councilmember District 2, Richard Loa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember District 3, Laura Bettencourt, email@example.com
Councilmember District 4, Juan Carrillo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Steven D. Hofbauer, email@example.com
38300 Sierra Highway, Suite APalmdale, CA. 93550Phone: 661-267-5115
To find your councilmember, visit the City's Interactive Map.
You may request City proclamation or certificates by completing the Recognition Request Form.
Regular meetings of the City Council are held on the first Tuesday of the month. Pursuant to Ordinance No. 1494, for the months of January and July only, regular meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of the month. Regular Meetings begin at 7 pm in the City Council Chamber, 38300 Sierra Highway, Suite B.
District 1: Austin Bishop District 2: Richard Loa District 3: Laura Bettencourt District 4: Juan Carrillo
Please use the District Map, follow the instructions, and enter your residence address to find your Council District number.
For election information, please call the City Clerk at 661-267-5151.
To check your voter registration status, visit the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk website or call 1-800-201-8999.
Yes, please refer to section 17.41.040 of the City's Municipal Code.
You may contact the Code Enforcement Office (661) 267-5234 for any general information or questions you may have concerning a specific property.
Allowable Number of Dogs
Allowable Number of Cats
Single-Family Residential (R-1)
Medium Residential (R-2)**
Multiple Residential (R-3)
High Density Residential (R-4)
Please download our flyer (PDF) for ad sizes, prices, and deadline dates.
You can watch City Council meetings on Palmdale Channel 27 on Spectrum cable, on the City's website, and on the City's YouTube Channel, CityofPalmdale.
Select the e-newsletters you wish to receive online through our Stay Connected form.
Neighborhood Watch is a community-based program supported by the National Sheriff’s Association. Since its inception in 1972, thousands of communities nationwide have established Neighborhood Watch in their neighborhoods and have made a real difference in public safety. Neighborhood Watch utilizes the best crime fighting tool available, your neighbors!
In addition to safer neighborhoods, Neighborhood Watch increases community spirit and camaraderie with neighbors, and builds stronger relationships with law enforcement. The program embraces and promotes cooperation between residents to watch out for each other’s safety and work together to solve problems.
We provide information for resources. For more information, view the Business Video.
The City receives 1% of the 9.5% sales tax for the general fund. The breakdown of how the sales tax is distributed is as follows:
Total Sales Tax
You may contact Assistant Finance Manager at 661-267-5440.
Foreign government officials and residents who claim exemption as a permanent resident of the hotel are exempt from paying TOT. Permanent resident status applies to a guest who stays over 30 continuous days at a hotel. The exemption applies beginning on day 31 of the stay.
Yes. To submit a bid:
Financial information about programs and projects can be obtained by calling Finance at 661-267-5440, or reviewing the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
Review the City's budget on the Finance page or online at:
Please call the Property Owner Services department at NBS Local Government Solutions at 800-676-7516. NBS is the City’s special tax consultant and can provide answers to your questions about the City's Mello Roos and 1915 Act Bond property tax assessments.
For the property tax bills, please call 800-273-5167.
A complete list of our job openings can be found at Government Jobs - Palmdale. An online application is required. Click on the position you are interested in, then just click on the button.
823 E. Avenue Q9, Suite B
Call the Employment Development Department at 1-800-300-5616, or visit the EDD Website.
Call the Department of Social Services for Los Angeles County at 866-613-3777 or visit DPSS Benefits.
The City adheres to the California State Minimum Wage requirement. Employers in the City who have questions about wages should call the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Wage Enforcement Program at 1-800-593-8222.
The City no longer accepts hard copy job applications and does not keep resumes on file. An online application is required at Government Jobs - Palmdale.
Yes, every job applicant will receive an email about the status of their application.
The Palmdale Works Youth Job Academy is offered several times each the year for ages 15-18, and provides free training on the job application process, mock interviews, and overall customer service skills. For more information please visit Palmdale Engaged.
America’s Job Center of California offers one-on-one career counseling, employer workshops, specialized job training, and computer/Internet access for your convenience.
America's Job Center of California38510 Sierra HighwayPalmdale, ca 93550Phone: 661/265-7421.
Volunteer opportunities in the Community Volunteer Resource Guide
Fill out a Library Card Application. To activate your card, you will need to visit the Library and provide picture identification and proof of address. If you are under 18 years old, you will need a parent or guardian to sign responsibility for the card.
A valid Palmdale City Library card is required to use public Internet stations. If you do not have a library card, you can apply online or in the Library. Internet use is limited to two hours per day per patron. Printing is available for 10¢ per page for black and white prints, and 25¢ per page for color prints.
You can check out a maximum of 30 items, including books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and books on CDs. Library cards with provisional status are limited to one item.
Yes, WiFi is available 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday. We do not offer wireless printing.
Yes, you can extend items over the phone, via the website, or in person with your Library card. The check out date can be extended two weeks from the original day of renewal two times, as long as no one has placed a hold on the item.
The City of Palmdale only has a Rent Control Ordinance for mobile homes within City limits. For more information on rent increases and the guidelines, call:
Please call the following for all tenant/landlord issues involving discrimination, eviction, unsafe living conditions, etc.:
Call the Palmdale Sheriff’s Department at 661-272-2400 and ask for the Traffic Division.
Please call 94-Pride (661-947-7433) for graffiti-related complaints and issues.
For all animal control-related questions and concerns, call Animal Care & Control at 661-575-2888.
Call the County of Los Angeles Housing Authority Section 8 office, at 661-575-1511 or the main office in Alhambra at 626-262-4510.
You can file a complaint with the LA County Department of Public Health at 888-770-9995.
Visit the Neighborhood Stabilization page to see if applications are available, then view the application process, homebuyer qualifications, and key points. You may also contact the Neighborhood Services by emailing Housing Division or calling 661-267-5126.
Yes, credit worthiness is considered in the approval process. A minimum 620 credit score is required. For more information call Neighborhood Services at 661-267-5126.
Only homes that have been purchased and rehabilitated by the City through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program are eligible.
The applicant is responsible for the lender required down payment. The program requires that a minimum of 1% of the lender required down payment be from the applicant's own funds. For more information, call Neighborhood Services at 661-267-5126.
The HAP loan is a no interest loan, with no monthly payments. After 15 years, if the borrower is in compliance, the loan is forgiven. View the Neighborhood Stabilization Program webpage for more information.
If you refinance with cash out or sell the home, you will be required to pay the HAP Promissory Note. But, if after 15 years you still own, occupy the home, and are in compliance, the loan will be forgiven.
The City does not grant payment extensions. Payment must be received within 21 days of the date the ticket was issued, or within 14 days of the date of the first overdue notice. Otherwise, late fees will be added, which often double the ticket fine. Additional collection fees and DMV fees will be added if the ticket remains unpaid after the initial late fee penalty is assessed.
Yes. Visa or MasterCard payments can be made by telephone by calling our Customer Service Hotline, 866-420-2894. Credit and debit card payments are also accepted online and at:
Neighborhood Services38250 Sierra HighwaySecond FloorPalmdale, CA 93550
Your vehicle will become eligible for towing if the vehicle has five or more delinquent tickets. This may include parking tickets anywhere in California. If your vehicle is in danger of being towed, you should pay your parking tickets immediately. If you have fewer than five delinquent tickets, your vehicle will not be towed, but, a hold will be placed on your annual vehicle registration until the tickets are paid.
There is a significant delay, often 30 to 60 days, between the time a payment is made at the DMV and when the City is notified of the payment. If you paid at the DMV, you may disregard late notices.
Tickets must be contested within 21 days of the date the ticket is issued, or within 14 days of the date of the first overdue notice. Once that period of time has expired, you lose your statutory right to contest the ticket. There is no appeal.
However, if you are contesting your ticket on the grounds that the vehicle was stolen, the vehicle no longer belonged to you at the time the ticket was issued, or the sole registered owner of the vehicle is now deceased, you have an indefinite period of time to contest the citation and request an administrative review.
No. Parking tickets are not criminal violations in California. You will not be arrested for failure to pay parking tickets.
However, there are substantial penalties for unpaid parking tickets. Late fees can more than double the original ticket amount. You will be unable to register your vehicle until the overdue tickets are paid.
No. Community service is granted by the courts as an option to pay fines for criminal offenses. Since parking tickets have been decriminalized, there is no longer an alternative payment of the fine.
No. Parking tickets cannot be cancelled due to inability to pay.
A payment arrangement application is available for citations with a fine of $100 or more. Payment arrangement applications must be received within 21 days of the date the ticket was issued, or within 14 days of the date of the first overdue notice to be considered. Payment arrangements are approved or denied and scheduled at the discretion of the Parking Enforcement office.
You have a delinquent parking citation with the City of Palmdale. We have attempted to collect this debt with notices to the registered owner and a hold to the annual vehicle registration, but have not received full payment.
If you were the registered owner at the time the ticket was issued, you are responsible for the ticket. Registered owner information is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When you sell a vehicle, you are responsible for notifying the DMV that the vehicle is no longer in your possession, and for providing the DMV with the name and address of the new owner.
If you continue to receive parking tickets for this vehicle, the DMV has your name on record as the legal owner. You must go to the DMV and complete a Release of Liability. Once you have done so, you must also complete a Declaration of Non-Ownership form and mail it to:
City of Palmdalec/o Parking Citation Service CenterP.O. Box 11923Santa Ana, CA 92711
Your pool experience is going to be very different this year, we encourage you to review our aquatics web page for details.
We are offering group swim lessons and recreation swim. Please note in-water supervision by an adult is required for children under 47 inches tall.
- Due to occupancy restrictions, we are only able to serve a small number of residents each day. Because of this change and social distancing requirements, we were forced to simplify our programming offerings this year.
- We look forward to bringing these programs back next summer and apologize for not being able to offer them this year.
- Due to occupancy restrictions we are only able to serve a small number of residents each day. To maximize our pool use, and serve as many residents as possible, private lessons cannot be offered this year.
- We look forward to bringing this program back next summer and apologize for not being able to offer it this year.
- Our New Senior Lap Swim program is for ages 65 and older, this new program allows those considered to be high risk by LA County Public Health an opportunity to swim.
- Our recreation swim program, lap swim and new senior lap swim programs are no longer drop-in, you must reserve your spot in advance.
- Our recreation swim program will no longer accept cash at the pool. We are selling a group membership for this program, anyone can scan the card for entry at the pool.
- Your pool visit will be very different this year, please visit www.CityofPalmdale.org/Aquatics for more detailed information.
This new program allows those considered to be high risk by LA County Public Health an opportunity to swim.
- Our City pools are scheduled to open and resume programming on Friday, June 26th. We will be offering Lap swim, New Senior Lap Swim, Recreation swim and group Swim Lessons.
- Please continue to visit www.CityofPalmdale.org/Aquatics for the most current information, we will add upcoming swim lesson information very soon.
No, pricing is different and the passes are different types. Lap memberships are for a single user, Recreation Swim memberships are for a group to share.
COVID-19 governing experts (CDC, State of CA, LA County Health) have strongly recommended cashless and touchless transactions for the health and safety of all. Scanning a membership card requires very little contact, additionally, there is no exchange of cards or money.
We want to give residents equal opportunity to share the pool, we don’t want someone to reserve several days at a time, restricting access to others.
Not a problem! You can call 661/267-5611 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are two ways to register for Palmdale’s programs and activities:
The Parks and Recreation office is located just south of Palmdale Boulevard between the Palmdale Playhouse and Courson Pool. at:38260 10th Street EPalmdale, CA 93550
Visit Play Palmdale and select the reserve tab at the top of page, then select view availability to see all rental sites. Choose the location, and select view availability. If the date is available, the box will say book now. You will need to create a Parks and Recreation account if you do not already have one in order to continue to make the reservation.
Palmdale News, Activities and Entertainment magazine, which includes some recreation activities, is published three times per year (January, May and September). It is direct mailed to all Palmdale households, and is available at City facilities. To view all activities and classes, visit PlayPalmdale.
Visit PlayPalmdale and create an account by using your email address and creating a password. Please use your own information when filling out the online registration account request form, not the information of the child you wish to register for an activity. Once you have an online account, you will have the opportunity to add family members.
Email the Parks and Recreation department or fax at 661-267-5636. Find information for the Parks and Recreation department.
Yes! If your family is low-income, you may qualify for scholarship assistance to register your child(ren) in our programs. Please fill out an application today.
Yes, once a facility use contract is signed by both parties and a deposit is collected a date will be reserved. No dates will be held prior to receiving a signed contract.
Staff will work with you to facilitate required permits, documents, and insurance.
Fencing can be installed in accordance with Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.86.040.
Residentially designated properties can install a fence with a maximum height of 6 1/2 feet in all locations except in the front yard setback. The maximum fence height in the front yard setback for properties less than 20,000 square feet (i.e., the portion of the property extending from the front of the house toward the street) is five feet, of which three feet can be a solid material and two feet must be open view. The maximum fence height in the front yard setback for properties 20,000 square feet or larger is six feet, of which three feet can be a solid material and three feet must be open view. Fencing materials are limited to masonry, wrought iron, and vinyl. Chain link fencing is only permitted when not visible from the public right-of-way.
Commercially and industrially designated properties can install a fence with a maximum height of six feet in all locations except within the building and landscaping setback. Depending on the location of the property, the landscape setback is generally 10 to 20 feet, and the building setback is typically an additional 10 feet beyond the landscape setback. Within the landscape setback, the maximum fence height is three feet and within the building setback, the maximum fence height is four feet. Industrial properties may also install fencing for screening purposes up to eight feet in height with approval from Planning. If walls taller than eight feet are proposed, approval must be granted by the Planning Commission through a Conditional Use Permit. Fencing materials are limited to masonry, wrought iron, and vinyl. Chain link fencing is only permitted when not visible from the public right-of-way.
Accessory or secondary dwelling units are permitted in the A-1, R-1, R-2, R-3, and MX zones in compliance within Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.91.030.
No permit is required. However, you are only allowed two garage or yard sales per year. No signage is allowed in the public right-of-way, see Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.91.080 for more information.
The exact location of property lines for a parcel can only be determined by a licensed surveyor. The general location of property lines can be determined by using the Los Angeles County Assessor’s map to determine property dimensions and location from the centerline of the adjacent street(s).
Yes, it can be viewed at Palmdale Municipal Code.
Yes, it may be accessed at GIS
Yes, it may be accessed at Zoning Map.
>Please see the California High Speed Rail (CAHSR) website for updates.
A temporary POD may be allowed at a residential location but must be placed on the driveway. However, it cannot be located within the front yard setback. An Encroachment Permit is required if it is located in the public right-of-way. Please contact Engineering at 661-267-5353 to obtain the necessary permit.
In residential districts, recreational vehicles may be parked on the driveway, and any interior side or rear yard provided:
For more information, please reference Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.82.050 (Use of Yards).
The City allows for a maximum of 40 percent of the front yard, excluding the driveway, to be covered with impervious surfaces (concrete, pavers, or any other material that does not allow water to flow through).
Landscape standards for residential districts can be found under Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.41.090.H
City of Palmdale Ordinance No. 1176 outlines the requirements of installation and appropriate maintenance of front and street corner side yard landscaping in single family residential zones.For a list of drought tolerant plants and trees, view the City’s Approved Plant and Tree List.
Most patio covers can be approved over the counter in Planning. A Zone Clearance application for a Single-Family Minor Modification, site plan, architectural elevation, and permit fee for approval are required. For additional information, such as required setbacks, please view the Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.82.
Vehicles can be parked in any interior side or rear yard provided that:
For more information, view Palmdale Municipal Code Section 17.82.050.
A property can be subdivided for future development by submitting of a Tentative Parcel Map (TPM) or Tentative Tract Map (TTM) application. A TPM is used to subdivide a parcel into four or fewer parcels, while a TTM is used to subdivide a parcel into five or more parcels. The application can be found under the Planning Division applications.
Palmdale Municipal Code (PMC) requires that all single-family homes maintain a fully enclosed two car garage with a free and clear interior dimension of at least 20 feet wide and 22 feet long. A garage cannot be converted into a bedroom unless there is space on the property to construct another two car garage, or there is a third car garage space. Approval of a Zoning Clearance application for a Single-Family Minor Modification is required for a garage conversion. The application fee is $63, and requires submittal of a site plan, floor plan, and architectural elevations of the proposed conversion. The application can be found under the Planning applications.
Contact Code Enforcement at 661-267-5234.
The City maintains a Development Summary of projects that have been applied, approved, and completed. The most current Development Summary can be viewed on the in the Planning webpage.
Call 94-PRIDE (661-947-7433) or download the Recycle Coach app on your smart phone.
You may report 24/7 by using the Recycle Coach app (available in the Apple Store and Google Play). Recycle Coach can use the GPS location of your phone to pinpoint the location of the issue. You may also call Maintenance at 661-267-5338, or report using the online forms.
You can download the Recycle Coach app for the trash and street sweeping service days for your street. You can also find out by visiting the Environmental and Technology webpage.
It may surprise you to learn that adding more stop signs or traffic signals along a roadway does not necessarily slow drivers down or increase safety. In fact, the overuse of signs and signals can lead drivers to ignore or not properly obey them.
Studies have shown that when stop signs are placed at intersections where they don’t appear to be needed, motorists become careless about stopping.
Installing traffic signals where they are not needed can create traffic congestion, add travel time, and frustrate drivers, who may start driving impatiently.
To make travel efficient and safe, and to help ensure the proper observance of stop signs and traffic signals, they are usually installed only where they are absolutely necessary. Other solutions, for example, a yield sign may also provide enough safety without affecting traffic flow.
Installing stop signs or traffic signals where they are not needed can cause significant disruption of traffic flow and increase intersection delay for drivers. The delay increases travel time, annoys drivers, and the starts and stops cause increased fuel consumption and production of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants.
Two-way stop signs assign the right-of-way at an intersection. The warrants for the installation two-way stop signs in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) are listed below. Because a stop sign causes substantial inconvenience to motorists, it should be used only where warranted. It may be warranted where the following conditions exist:
The amount of delay created by the stop sign depends on both major and minor street flows. The gaps in the major flow traffic stream must be adequate to allow the stopped traffic to move through, or turn right or left through the intersection. The term "critical gap" is often used to describe the median gap accepted by drivers for specific turning maneuvers and roadway characteristics. According to the 1997 Highway Capacity Manual, typical critical gaps are 6.2 to 6.9 seconds for right turns from a minor roadway, and 7.1 to 7.5 seconds for left turns from a minor roadway. Left-turning movements take longer, and left-turning drivers must cross more traffic streams. Additional delay for minor street vehicles is also determined by the vehicle arrival rate. The arrival rate of vehicles on the minor street is related to how long drivers will wait in the queue to get to the stop line.
The delay times at stopped approaches can become excessive if either major or minor flow is high. The advantage of a two-way stop is that the major flows do not have to stop and they incur almost no delay at the intersection (i.e., the majority of the traffic does not have to stop).
Four-way stop control is often controversial as it can often confuse motorists and can cause more average delay than other types of control. The multiway stop sign should only be used where the volume on all approaches to the intersection is approximately equal and the traffic volumes are relatively low. However, the four-way stop sign can be useful in situations where two-way stop control has not solved the safety problems, but signalization is not yet warranted.
Installing stop signs or traffic signals where they are not needed can cause significant disruption of traffic flow and increase intersection delay for drivers. The delay increases travel time, annoys drivers, and the additional starts and stops cause increased fuel consumption and production of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants.
Justifying a signal installation requires considerable data collection and analysis, including:
The MUTCD lists 11 warrants for the placement of traffic signals, summarized below (please refer to the MUTCD for details). If none of these warrants are met, a traffic signal should not be placed, and, the fulfillment of a warrant(s) does not in itself justify the installation of a signal.
Installing a traffic signal at a low-volume intersection can significantly increase crashes and delays. The increase in delay and stops results in higher fuel consumption, increased travel time, and higher point source pollution. The length of delay is directly related to a number of factors. Cycle length is one factor that is influenced by traffic volumes and the need to safely accommodate pedestrians, the pedestrian crossing time could significantly increase the cycle lengths. Although traffic signals can reduce the total number of collisions at an intersection, research has shown that certain types of crashes (e.g., rear-end collisions) may actually increase after a signal is installed. For this reason, the type and number of crashes at an intersection are considered before the installation of a signal.
Traffic signals can represent a positive public investment when justified, but they are costly. A modern signal can cost $80,000 to $100,000 to install. In addition, there is the cost of electricity to operate a signalized intersection 24 hours a day (which can average about $1,400 per year).
It is important to carefully consider whether a traffic control device is needed. The costs and benefits must be carefully evaluated, and a careful analysis and engineering study must be completed.