In the last month, motorists driving on Scotts Valley Drive after dark may have noticed a brightly lit street name sign at the intersection of Civic Center and Scotts Valley drives.
The sign is a prototype, the first of 32 such illuminated signs that will begin appearing along the main thoroughfares of Scotts Valley. The Scotts Valley City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the project at the council’s Wednesday, July 3 meeting.
The project is part of a traffic improvement plan that calls for using approximately $175,000 in developer impact fees to install the illuminated street name signs, place a programmable reader board at the intersection of Mount Hermon and Kings Village roads, and a build a monument-style sign along southbound Highway 17 on the north end of town.
The goal of the signs, said Councilwoman Donna Lind, is to make Scotts Valley’s streets, businesses and public facilities easier for drivers to find.
“I have really wanted to see better signage and better-looking signage,” Lind said. “These will make it a nice clean look.”
Deputy City Manager Corrie Kates said that work would begin on installing the illuminated signs as soon as the size and spacing of the signs’ lettering was finalized with Oakland-based Arrow Sign Company.
“We want to do it before school starts,” he said. “We want to make sure that the next sign we put up, the lettering is large enough to be readable at night.”
While the illuminated signs are cleared to be installed as soon as the work orders are placed, Kates said, plans for both the reader sign and monument sign will likely take quite a while to be finalized.
The reader sign, Lind said, would be programmable to allow scrolling text to be visible to motorists on Mount Hermon Road and would help generate greater awareness of events taking place at Skypark, as well as the Scotts Valley library, senior center and community center.
“The reader board is so badly needed,” Lind said. “(It) would help people find some of the special events.”
As for the monument sign along Highway 17, Kates said that progress on that would likely be somewhat glacial, as Caltrans will need to be consulted on any design that the city might put forward.
Plans for two additional signs were proposed — directional signs to lead motorists to the library and community center — but did not have designated funding sources. Lind said that alternative sources of funding could be sought at some point to make the signs happen.
“There’s been a lot of interest and I think we can raise those funds elsewhere,” she said. “That’s something we would like to have, but not something we would be comfortable taking general funds for.”
‘A luxury we can’t afford’
The council voted to approve the project with a 3-2 vote, with Vice Mayor Jim Reed and Councilman Dene Bustichi dissenting. Both cited the high cost of the illuminated signs — nearly $3,000 per unit — and questioned the need for the signs.
“My standard for new spending is a high one to clear,” Reed said. “There’s got to be an overwhelming case that the need is immediate.”
He said that using the developer impact fees, which are earmarked for road improvement, to replace the existing street signs is not, in his opinion, the most efficient way to use what he described as “an important funding source.”
“Internally illuminated signs, to me, are closer to a luxury we can’t afford,” Reed said. “I think (the existing) painted metal signs will work just fine.”
As for the reader board and the monument sign, Reed said that he was in favor of adding them, he questioned whether the time was right to explore that, given the still-shaky economy.
“I think that is a useful thing to have — at some point,” he said. “Whether now is the best time for these signs is another question.”
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