Solana Beach to greet visitors with new city sign


A new sign will soon greet Solana Beach visitors when entering the city from Rancho Santa Fe.

Solana Beach council members on Jan. 28 unanimously approved an entry sign and monument design for the median at Lomas Santa Fe Drive and Highland Drive.

Designed by two volunteers from the Public Arts Commission, or PAC, the “Gateway to Sunshine” entry sign and monument depicts a 55-foot-long serpentine, Corten steel “S” shape with cutouts of the city name and a sunset. It will be constructed on the median with the city name facing east for those entering from Rancho Santa Fe, and the sunset at the west end of the curved piece for traffic on each side of the median on Lomas Santa Fe.

The design includes solar lights to illuminate the city name at night. Drought-tolerant landscaping will also be added.

The PAC began exploring entry signs for the site after the 2013 traffic-calming project at Highland Drive at Lomas Santa Fe created a new, large median at the intersection.

In December 2013, the city, in cooperation with the PAC, issued a request for proposals to design a sign and monument for the median, along with landscaping for the site. Of the 10 responses, five finalists were selected to make presentations to the PAC.

Because the PAC could not reach a consensus, however, commissioners decided to consider sculptures already created by well-known artists, and tentatively selected a piece called “Sun Platter.” At the same time, two commissioners, Brett Reisdorf and Mike Swanson, volunteered to design an entry sign and monument based on the feedback received during the PAC meetings, from staff and the community.

With input from the city’s Engineering Department, the PAC decided “Sun Platter” was not suitable for the median. Its top-heavy design presented a potential public safety risk. Instead, commissioners decided to move forward with the “Gateway to Sunshine” design, bringing it before the council for consideration.

Once constructed, “Gateway to Sunshine” will be the city’s fourth welcome sign. Others include a “Welcome to Solana Beach” sign on South Highway 101 from Cardiff, the Coastal Rail Trail tile arches on North Highway 101 from Del Mar, and a Solana Beach sign with a fish and kelp sculpture at the Eden Gardens Pump Station.

“I live real close to it,” said Swanson, a landscape architect and Solana Beach resident for about 35 years. “As a professional, resident and designer, it’s always been in my conscience.”

“I thank you very much for your volunteer time on this and coming to the rescue,” Mayor Lesa Heebner said to both volunteers. “I think this suits the site, myself.”

The project is estimated to cost $35,000, but the city anticipates in-kind services provided by the community for the landscaping portion of the project. The project will be funded by transient occupancy taxes from the city’s Reserve Public Art Account.

The new sign is expected to be installed by summer.