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Op-Ed: Elk Grove Wayfinding Signage Meeting Was a 'Fiasco'

The author says the Elk Grove City Council was "designing from the dais."

By Sarah Johnson
Special to Elk Grove Patch 

Last week's Elk Grove City Council meeting was interesting, also disappointing in that designing from the dais took place once again. Agenda item 10.3, Wayfinding Signage was pretty much a fiasco from start to finish. The only bright spots were Pat Hume and Jim Cooper's “NO” votes.

The staff report was prepared using the wrong sign design. I notified the Council members and staff and on Monday, I got word that the mistake would be corrected. It appears that the Mayor may have been the only one who got the correct design prior to a “Green Sheet” being issued on Wednesday, the day of the Council meeting. So my first question is, how can staff brief Council members on agenda items correctly under these circumstances? What was said about this during the briefings? How can a Council member give thoughtful consideration to an agenda item with the wrong information? If they don't see it until they are on the dais, how good is their decision?

Council members said things like, “I support the concept”, “I like the entire program, including the electronic readerboard signs”, “I don't support the readerboard signs because there were objections to them from the community”, etc. ( not exact quotes, but just an illustration. Watch the video for the exact discussion). By the way, the new terminology is “dynamic signs”. Just another semantics exercise to confuse the issue.

Good points made by speakers were pretty much ignored. I would point out especially Mr. Monasky's discussion about signage focused toward pedestrians. How in the world will we ever begin to turn away from our auto-centric society if every thought and every action reinforces the worship of the automobile. Don't tell me it is because most people drive, etc. In my opinion, that is exactly the wrong approach. Set an example! Use your bully pulpit to advance new ideas. Quit falling into lockstep behind the idea that the automobile is the center of the universe! And, speaking of centers, how can you even look at the examples for signs internal to the Auto Mall and not see the very definition of sign clutter? If the public can find the Auto Mall, they can find the individual dealers without cluttering up the landscape with these ugly and confusing signs. It is disappointing to have these passed with a shrug because the Auto Mall provides lots of sales tax dollars to the City.

It may come as a surprise that pedestrian amenities are an important part of an integrated public transit system. They provide the connectivity necessary for a seamless path from front door to final destination. Of course, as Mr. Monasky also pointed out, you also have to have safe walking routes on which to travel. After thirteen years, why are we not emphasizing these issues?

Thanks Mr. Hume and Mr. Cooper for voting “no”. Too little, too late!

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Marty March 05, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Very well said Ms. Johnson. It seemed to me the focus was on the decoration or design, “without thinking about ‘who are the users. My thinking is, the less signs one needs the better. It is entirely possible to put up way too many of these things, and to do them all wrong ("sign clutter,") Sometimes it's good to get a litttle lost and find that great little cafe off the beaten path. I have never found Elk Grove a city hard to navigate....in case you haven't noticed we are a small community and not a "Destination City." for most travelers heading north or south. IMO, our city council and management have not displayed the restraint necessary to be good stewards of our tax dollars.....

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