New signs to direct pedestrians could get a summer test run in Laguna Beach

The Laguna Beach Planning Commission favored a minimalist approach Wednesday night in endorsing a test run this summer of signs that direct pedestrians to various parts of the city.

Commissioners unanimously recommended the city relegate signs to downtown and the HIP District, considered two of Laguna's prime business areas, for the summer and evaluate their effectiveness before expanding to other areas of the city.

Commissioners agreed that too much information clogging signs could be detrimental, and they expressed a preference for including only such things as walking times and arrows pointing to destinations like beaches, parks, and shopping areas.

The City Council will consider the matter on April 18.

San Diego-based Graphic Solutions worked with a committee that included city officials and representatives from the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visit Laguna Beach on a sign design that divided Laguna into five districts, each with a corresponding color — such as green for Laguna Canyon and blue for South Laguna.

According to renderings, certain signs would include maps and trolley information.

Advocates, including business owners in the HIP District, said the signs would help steer pedestrians to areas of town they may be unaware of and reduce the logjam of crowds that can congregate at intersections.

"When you see wayfinding signs in Rome and Vancouver, they have helped me go a little bit farther down the road," business owner Ginger Weston said.

Some speakers bristled at the design, saying it commercialized Laguna, and questioned the necessity of information-loaded signs in the era of smart phones.

Resident Alison King said she likes a map feature but added: "It would be so much easier for people to use GPS to find what they are looking for. Let's not fool ourselves. It's marketing to try to bring in money."

Commissioner Roger McErlane, who participated on the committee, agreed that merchants would benefit from increased foot traffic.

"Getting pedestrians to look around is valid, a good goal," McErlane said. "I'm not so convinced a map of the city is important."

Some of the signs would be placed at current sign locations, such as bus stops, planner Wendy Jung wrote in an email. It was unclear how many signs will be installed.

Jung did not have a cost estimate.

"Staff is still working with Graphic Solutions on this aspect as part of our preparation for the April 18 City Council meeting," Jung said in her email.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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