City project proposes to coordinate directional signs

Photo By: Photo Courtesy City of Los Altos
Photo Photo Courtesy City Of Los Altos The city council is set to review a Wayfinding sign design concept that streamlines the look of directional signs throughout the city.

The Los Altos City Council is scheduled to review its project to streamline and unify the city’s directional and street signs.

According to Los Altos Economic Development Manager Kathy Kleinbaum, the council Jan. 8 will evaluate the city’s Wayfinding Sign design concept, reviewed by the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) in early December.

The project aimed to design a visually unifying look for the various directional signs throughout the city, especially those that lead visitors to key city destinations.

A city staff report on the project noted that the existing directional signs, developed over several decades, lacked “cohesion and are not comprehensive in nature.”

“The goal is to try to create a unified sign system to direct people to major destinations, including commercial districts and civic destinations,” Kleinbaum said.

The city’s Wayfinding Sign Task Force, appointed by the city council in May, and Explore Creative, a Sonoma-based graphic-design firm hired by the city, developed the proposed design. Task force members included representatives from the council, the Los Altos Village Association, the PTC, the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and property owners from the city’s commercial districts.

According to the staff report, the signage program’s proposed design drew inspiration from the “rustic, yet modern nature of Los Altos.” Signs would include the use of reclaimed wood, black iron framing and stone bases with an off-white type and forest-green accent color scheme.

“We were looking for rustic materials with a clean, readable format,” Kleinbaum said. “You have to be able to read these signs traveling at 35 or 40 miles per hour.”

The unified look creates “general branding for the city so that people know they’re in Los Altos,” she said. “It helps direct visitors to key destinations along the most simple, direct routes.”

The project also has a practical purpose, Kleinbaum said. The task force identified the need to provide directional signs and entry markers for public parking in the downtown area and Loyola Corners.

“It’s something we’re lacking right now,” she said. “Other towns have signs directing patrons to off-street parking.”

Presently, Kleinbaum said, the placement of some directional signs prevents motorists from navigating to city destinations efficiently. The project calls for upgrading and replacing directional markers along the city’s major thoroughfares, including El Camino Real, San Antonio Road and Foothill Expressway.

The report specifically noted the need to replace the pair of identity markers for the civic center area, as well as the downtown identity sign in the flowered median at Main Street and Foothill Expressway.

If the council approves the design, a cost estimate must be determined before any timeline for implementation of the proposed signage can be scheduled.

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