La Jolla parking board approves directional sign design concept but struggles with location and size

Andy Fotsch (bottom right) presents a parking directional sign design and colors to the Coastal Access and Parking Board.
Andy Fotsch (bottom right) presents a parking directional sign design and color scheme to the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board.

The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board cleared a major hurdle for its parking directional sign project at its March 25 meeting when it unanimously approved a sign design concept. But other issues, such as the sign’s location and size, continue to be stumbling blocks.

The board’s wayfinding plan includes two parts: static signs posted throughout The Village pointing pedestrians to area beaches, landmarks and other key destinations, and one electronic directional sign indicating how many parking spaces are in four area garages, where they are located and the cost at each one, plus signs fronting those garages showing how many spaces are available.

The proposal has gained conceptual approval from the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, Planned District Ordinance Committee, Traffic & Transportation Board and Community Planning Association (the latter on the consent agenda with no discussion).

In presenting to the groups, Coastal Access and Parking Board member Jodi Rudick, executive director of the Village Merchants Association, said the main question is about the directional sign’s appearance.

Past design concepts were deemed ill-fitting, so Rudick reached out for ideas to architects on the Vision La Jolla committee, which is looking at an overall plan and vision for The Village.

Presenting his design during the March 25 meeting, architect Andy Fotsch, working with architect and urbanist Trace Wilson, started with designs for the static signs for pedestrians and “worked backward” to provide a more uniform appearance.

Design concepts for static signs pointing to La Jolla landmarks, beaches and other key destinations
These are design concepts for static signs pointing to landmarks, beaches and other key destinations that will be part of the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board’s wayfinding program.

They settled on a rounded-edge, shield-shaped sign that “didn’t look like a lot of the other signage we see in the coastal communities up and down Southern California,” Fotsch said.

They looked at colors seen in Village landmarks and decided on what they call “Bishop’s beige,” the sandy color similar to the exterior of The Bishop’s School; “La Valencia blush or pink,” matching the hotel; and “a deep olive green” of Torrey pines.

“These colors felt very La Jolla and very beachy, without having too much blue,” Fotsch said. “When you look at pretty much every other coastal community, their signs are blue, so we wanted to be different. Not different for different’s sake, but respecting what is identifying of La Jolla.”

A motion to approve the design concept was approved unanimously.

“I think it’s a beautiful sign; it has a certain style to it that I like,” CAPB trustee Ray Weiss said. “You have done an excellent job.”

Rudick said anything the board proposes will have to be approved by city of San Diego traffic engineers.

A company to make the static signs is to be determined. The board has selected Texas-based FlashParking to fabricate the parking signs and install the hardware and software.

Marc Miller, FlashParking’s San Diego regional sales manager, said the directional sign would be small enough not to be obtrusive but large enough for drivers to read from their cars.

The challenge is where to put the sign and what size to make it.

The tentative plan is to have the sign on Prospect Street at Coast Boulevard, but some argued it should be on Torrey Pines Road, which most visitors use to access The Village.

The problem, Rudick said, is that anything on Torrey Pines Road would be in the jurisdiction of the La Jolla Shores Association, and “we would have to ask them to approve a sign in their community that sends people to The Village.”

While she agreed that having a sign on Torrey Pines Road, where drivers often sit and can plan, would be beneficial, it would require additional planning.

“Once we figure out where we are going to put the sign, we can get more direction as to how big it can be without looking too crazy and the distance from which a driver can realistically look at the sign and read it,” Miller said. “It is hard to conceptualize, but once we decide on the location, we can narrow in.”

Rudick said the project’s “Achilles heel” could be getting buy-in from parking garage owners to offer a discounted rate for those who park in the garages, given they would benefit from having the sign direct more motorists to them.

“We need ... commitment from the parking garage operators to offer some kind of promotional pricing, as requested by the California Coastal Commission. We have yet to get that commitment,” Rudick said. “I am working with [parking operators] Ace and LAZ to make sure that happens. ... The Coastal Commission could scrap the whole thing without that.”

Other steps would be to take the sign design, location and size to the Planned District Ordinance Committee, ideally at its May meeting; update the parking page on the Village Merchants Association website to include a map and links to all parking options when possible; work with Vision La Jolla to determine the placement of static directories and wayfinding signs; and draft a budget to start the process of obtaining funds.

Learn more about the Coastal Access and Parking Board at ◆