Del Mar Highlands proposes new signage

Del Mar Highlands Town Center is looking for approval of a new signage plan for its expanding center, requesting some variations from the Carmel Valley Sign Guidelines and Criteria.

Carmel Valley’s unique sign guidelines were developed back in 1990 to reduce the prominence of signage, create a balance between commercial and aesthetic interests as well as encourage creative and “otherwise tasteful signage that contributes character and vitality to the Carmel Valley community.”

Donahue Schriber has proposed increased signage to provide more visibility for tenants, including those part of its $120 million expansion project that includes an expanded Jimbo’s, new shops and an elevated dining experience called The Sky Deck that will house eight to 10 full service restaurants and an outdoor brewer’s deck featuring local breweries.

With input from the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, Donahue Schriber made several modifications, agreeing to reduce the size and number of signs—at its April 25 meeting, the planning board approved 11 of 13 aspects of the proposed signage program.


John Dean, a longtime Carmel Valley resident and former planning board member, said that the intent of the 1990 sign guidelines was to prevent over-signage in Carmel Valley. Dean argued that the center has thrived for 30 years without the need for more signage and he worried that granting variances would create a new guidelines that become policy.

“Don’t create a brand new policy that opens it up for others to come in and ask for more,” Dean said.

As per the code, monument signs are only allowed at center entrances and only with major tenants, the planning board blocked additional monument signs with a directory of multiple tenants listed—proposed signs would have listed two major and six other tenants. The major tenants in Del Mar Highlands Town Center are considered Ralph’s, Jimbo’s and Cinepolis.

The Sky Deck and new Jimbo’s were allowed additional signage on the west and south sides of the building. The vote was not unanimous with board members Steve Davison, Danielle McCallion and Stella Rogers voting in opposition. The center did agree to modify its proposed signage to read just Sky Deck rather than identifying all of the uses inside.


The board opposed signage for second-story tenants on the back of the new building facing Townsgate Drive, “I don’t see the benefit, only locals drive on that street,” McCallion said. The board was less opposed to a grouping of tenant signs, rather than signs being placed in a straight line across the building.

The board allowed one sign in violation to remain—the sign on Casey Driveway off Del Mar Heights Road is out of compliance as major tenants have signage on the two entrance walls versus a single ground sign in the median. The center removed the permitted ground sign when it expanded the driveway.

“We’ve worked closely with the community on our sign program and are thankful to the Carmel Valley Planning Board for their leadership and guidance,” said Don Armstrong, construction manager. “Our next step will be to finalize the sign plan with the City of San Diego, who will take into consideration the votes from the Carmel Valley Planning Board.”

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