skip navigation

Naming Public Facilities and Streets

This page provides a basic overview of naming policies for local streets and facilities in Washington State, including relevant regulations and examples of local policies and ordinances.

Overview

Having a naming policy based on a set of criteria can prevent conflict. Some street naming policies also include addressing systems and requirements to display addresses. It can provide a historical context for future generations in your community, especially if the name was intended as a tribute to someone from the community's past. In the case of street names, some jurisdictions provide honorary street names, but retain the official street name. A few honorary street naming policies are provided from outside Washington. If your Washington municipality has a honorary street naming policy, MRSC would appreciate receiving a copy.

Naming of Public Facilities - General Policies

  • Sumner Resolution No. 1035 (2001) - Naming parks and other facilities
  • Tacoma Resolution No. 38091 (2010) - Adopts revised official Policy on Place Names and Name Changes - Includes section on street naming alternatives for the commemoration of individuals or organizations
  • Yelm Ordinance No. 786 (2003) - Implements a Community Memorial Recognition Program for public parks, public facilities, and streets

Naming Policies for Park and Recreation Facilities

Street Naming and Numbering Policies

Regulations

  • International Fire Code, 2009 Edition, excerpt from Section 505 Premises Identification

    Sec. 505.1 Address Identification. New and existing buildings shall have approved address numbers, building numbers or approved building identification placed in a position that is plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property. These numbers shall contrast with their background. Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters. Numbers shall be a minimum of 4 inches (101.6 mm) high with a minimum stroke width of 0.5 inch (12.7 mm). Where access is by means of a private road and the building cannot be viewed from the public way, a monument, pole or other sign or means shall be used to identify the structure.

    Sec. 505.2 Street or road signs. Streets and roads shall be identified with approved signs. Temporary signs shall be installed at each street intersection when construction of new roadways allows passage by vehicles. Signs shall be of an approved size, weather resistant and be maintained until replaced by permanent signs.

  • Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Washington State Department of Transportation - Provides link to MUTCD and WAC amendments. The manual contains regulations for the placement of street name signs and memorials. Two examples appear below from the 2009 edition.

Policies

Honorary Street Names

Honorary street names allow citizens the opportunity to honor people who have made significant contributions to the community. MRSC has many samples of street naming policies, but none contain policies for honorary street naming. Below are a few suggestions from policies found outside Washington.

  • Denver, CO Department of Public Works Entrance Requirements for Honorary & Official Street Renaming - Summarizes the key issues related to renaming a street, whether a Honorary or Official Street Renaming.
  • Evanston, IL Honorary Street Name Sign Program - Honorary street name signs are displayed for a period of ten-years and the portion of a street so designated is one block long. The program is administered by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Public Place Names through the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.
  • Peoria, IL Honorary Street Signs - Program is administered by the Public Works Department. Street names are displayed for a one year period. The sign will then be turned over to the respected party. Street designations will be determined on a case by case basis. The portion of a street so designated is one block long.
  • Tulsa OK, Public Works/Traffic Operations Honorary Street Name Sign Policy

Additional References

  • Street-Naming and Property-Numbering Systems, by Margaret A. Corwin, American Planning Association, Planning Advisory Service Report 332, 1978 - APA Publisher Description - Dated, but still of use
  • Uniform House Numbering, Basic Grid System, Street Names and Signs, BGRS Information Bulletin No. 250, 1963 (Available through MRSC Library Loan) - Dated, but parts still useful

Last Modified: September 22, 2016