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City Hall is seeking proposals from designers to develop a new comprehensive signage package that would standardize markers at all 24 parcels of open space, addressing concerns by tourists who found existing signs to be confusing.

Proposals are due to City Hall by Oct. 23 and a consultant will be selected soon after. The development phase of the project is estimated to cost less than $75,000 (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITYWIDE Confusion in navigating the local parks and beaches could soon be a thing of the past.

City Hall is seeking proposals from designers to develop a new comprehensive signage package that would standardize markers at all 24 parcels of open space, addressing concerns by tourists who found existing signs to be confusing.

Proposals are due to City Hall by Oct. 23 and a consultant will be selected soon after. The development phase of the project is estimated to cost less than $75,000, according to Julie Silliman, the administrative analyst for Community and Cultural Services. An estimate has not been made for the cost of purchasing the signs.

Silliman said the program is needed to update many signs whose verbiage either doesn’t make sense or are outdated, citing antiquated municipal codes that have since been changed.

The plan would also coordinate all open space signs, giving them a logo or design element that would be unique to only park and beach markers.

Downtown Los Angeles has similarly put together a coordinated vehicle and pedestrian way-finding system that helps visitors navigate and find places within the area. The signs are all the same color and have the same icon, giving visitors a sense of familiarity.

A frequent complaint from tourists was the difficulty of finding certain parks in the city.

“If you’re new to the city … you wouldn’t know where there was a city park because there isn’t a sign that says that this is the park, this is the name and it’s owned by the city,” Silliman said. “Some of our parks don’t have name signs.”

Some tourists also faced confusion in navigating within parks, having difficulty finding facilities such as restrooms because of an absence of directional signs.

“You can’t immediately leave a lot of parking lots and know where the restroom is or where the ballpark is,” Silliman said. “Only a few places have directional arrows.”

The tourists’ comments came from a study conducted several years ago by the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, asking visitors to rate their beach experience.

“The signage situation came up in a few different ways (including) in an emergency situation when people have a difficult time reporting where they are,” Misti Kerns, the president and CEO of the CVB, said.

Kerns added that the beach area in particular is rich in history and signs are needed to ensure that visitors can share in the experience, pointing to the Marion Davies Estate, which will be reincarnated as the Annenberg Community Beach House, and the Inkwell Beach site off Bay Street that was unofficially once designated as a gathering spot for black beachgoers.

“We want them to join in on the uniqueness of the whole area,” Kerns said.

A design concept for the signs will be presented to the Recreation and Parks Commission, which is the advisory board regarding open space matters in the city. Susan Cloke, who chairs the commission, said City Hall should be careful to keep signs at a minimum to avoid visual clutter.

The commission has supported the plan, believing it can benefit residents and tourists.

“I think they are looking at some very innovative approaches to signs in the park,” Cloke said.

melodyh@smdp.com