Big Island

Visual Clutter Be Gone!

The lottery jackpot, distance to McDonald’s, location of the next gas station, time until you reach Motel 6…along with gigantic graphics of area attractions and oversized pictures of guys and gals who work at places I’ll never visit. It’s all part of a day’s ride along the highways and by-ways of our nation’s highways. Billboards are everywhere! Thankfully, things are a bit different here in Hawaii Nei. We have both State laws and a County ordinance that regulate size, placement, and configuration of signs.

Understanding Permit Requirements

I suspect many folks don’t realize that signs other than temporary signs need a permit. Signs, such as those placed on property for sale, are considered temporary and do not need a permit but there are very specific regulations related to real estate signs.

Specific Regulations for Real Estate Signs

For instance, we can only place a sign on a property listed for sale. Our signs aren’t supposed to be on a public right-of-way, and informational and directional signs are a no-no. Typically for sale signs are limited to 8 square feet in size. Corner properties may have two signs.

Lately, the 6-month limit on temporary sign placement hasn’t been a problem. Removing the sign within 72 hours after completion of the event or activity promoted by the sign (like an election) is often overlooked.

Temporary signs in commercial/industrial districts are different. There are 28 pages of rules and definitions contained in Chapter 3 of the Hawaii County Code. There are also State laws regarding content that REALTORS® must follow.

Enforcement and Penalties

A licensed agent can never advertise “for sale by owner.” Real estate signs must identify the office affiliation and phone number. Illegal signs must be removed within ten working days following notice. If not, Public Works can confiscate them. Fines are up to $500 for the first offense, with increased fines and even criminal prosecution for subsequent violations.

In a place where natural beauty defines all we do, it makes perfect sense that signage is strictly regulated. If you have questions about signs on our gorgeous island, call the Building Division at 808-961-8331. There are different rules in Kailua town so it’s best to call 808-327-3520 for sign advice in Kona. So, when it comes to visual clutter, thank goodness the scenery along our beautiful highways and by-ways is strictly protected!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

Comments (0) Show CommentsHide Comments (Remember)

Cool. Add your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private, this form is secure and we never spam you.

More Articles from Hawaii Life