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Bird Rock Community Council sees updated plans for neighborhood signs

A rendering of a possible design for neighborhood signs proposed for Bird Rock roundabouts
A rendering of a possible design for neighborhood signs proposed for Bird Rock roundabouts was presented to the Bird Rock Community Council by local architect Trace Wilson.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Final details and funding are still to be worked out for a proposal to place decorative rocks with sculptures of birds on La Jolla Boulevard.

As plans to install sculptures welcoming people to Bird Rock continue to take shape, the Bird Rock Community Council got a peek at what is being pursued during its Oct. 4 meeting. Final details are still being worked out, but the plan would place decorative rocks with sculptures of birds on La Jolla Boulevard at both ends of the commercial district.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion over the last year or two about establishing more of an identity for the Bird Rock part of the La Jolla community … and signage that might be appropriate,” Community Council President John Newsam said. “A number of approaches have been discussed, ranging from [archway] signage similar to that in Hillcrest and other options.”

Ultimately, local architect and urbanist Trace Wilson came up with a plan and design for a “natural boulder with either pinned lettering or engraved lettering [reading ‘Bird Rock’] with either brass or bronze birds on top of it.” The sculptures would be placed on roundabouts and medians on La Jolla Boulevard.

When branding La Jolla’s Bird Rock community, it makes sense that designs would include birds and rocks.

Wilson said he met with local business owners in the weeks before the BRCC meeting and that those in attendance supported the concept.

BRCC board member Craig Bender, owner of Bird Rock Animal Hospital, later told the La Jolla Light that merchants have been asking for some type of signage for a decade.

“It is the No. 1 thing that merchants have asked for,” Bender said. “There are so many empty shops on the Boulevard, and some good ones have left because Bird Rock doesn’t have that destination feel. If Bird Rock residents want more restaurants and new businesses to fill the empty spaces, we have to create an environment where people want to come visit. ... This is what the merchants need to be successful when they know they are actually in Bird Rock.”

Bender said he hopes for a hearing at the November BRCC meeting to gather input from residents and settle on a design before casting a vote.

Wilson said he was inspired by “taking my boys down to the beach at the end of Camino de la Costa” and seeing cormorants, pelicans and other birds resting on the rocks there. He said similar decorative rocks in Del Mar are “elegant and natural” and served as artistic inspiration.

“There is a notion of simplicity, elegance and some whimsy … but is also subtle, something that intrigues people as they pass through,” Wilson said.

The cost will be determined when a final design is selected. Wilson said he is exploring grants from San Diego County and that some money possibly could come from the Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District budget. However, there likely would be a fundraising effort to supply the rest.

Newsam called the design “tasteful,” and BRCC Vice President Joe Parker said he is “a fan of neighborhood signage” and that the proposal is “much better than some of the other ideas I have seen.”

However, board member and MAD representative Barbara Dunbar questioned whether the San Diego municipal code allows for neighborhood identification signs in the public right of way. “It does say community signs are allowed, but the community is La Jolla; the neighborhood is Bird Rock,” she said.

She added that, as the MAD representative, she doesn’t “like to see anything in the MAD area.”

She said her chief concern, however, is the possibility of people being distracted by the sculptures as they drive.

A rendering presented to the BRCC by Trace Wilson of a possible neighborhood sign for the La Jolla Boulevard roundabouts.
A rendering of a possible Bird Rock neighborhood sign for La Jolla Boulevard was presented to the Community Council by Trace Wilson.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Bird Rock resident Darcy Ashley echoed that fear. “The roundabouts were engineered to keep the focus on driving and traffic calming,” she said. “People have a hard enough time figuring out what they are supposed to do at a roundabout, and I would not like to see anything other than the [existing landscaping] there. If you give people too much stuff to look at while they are trying to do with their car, it’s not good.”

She added a concern that people would take photos with the signs in an unsafe way.

Newsam said he would discuss the proposal further with residents and business and property owners to try to get a consensus on final designs.

Other Bird Rock news

Halloween safety: With hundreds of trick-or-treaters expected to descend on Bird Rock on Halloween, Dunbar said community members are encouraged to turn off their lights at 8 p.m. to signal the end of the festivities.

“Normally, we wouldn’t see this much activity on a Monday, but it is expected we will have larger crowds … because people haven’t been able to participate in Halloween activities for several years” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunbar said. She advised motorists to use extra caution when driving through the area.

Upcoming benefit walk: Newsam noted that the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk for breast cancer research will march down La Jolla Boulevard on Friday, Nov. 18, and he encouraged residents and businesses to show their support. The annual 60-mile walk through various communities ends in downtown San Diego, with walkers covering about 20 miles a day. To learn more, visit bit.ly/3CdtJgX.

MAD update: Property owners pay an assessment through the MAD for care of Bird Rock’s public spaces beyond what the city of San Diego can provide, including landscaping. Dunbar said tree trimming and seed pod removal in the MAD area have been “accelerated” recently because the seed pods are weighing down branches, which are bending into the pedestrian area. She added that tree wells are being inspected for trip hazards.

Next meeting: The Bird Rock Community Council next meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, likely online. The annual MAD meeting will take place immediately after the community meeting. Learn more at birdrockcc.org.

Updates

2:24 p.m. Oct. 10, 2022: This article was updated with comments from Craig Bender.