Finding downtown Fallbrook is often a problem for first-time visitors, and for years – 10 years to be exact – town leaders have been trying to get approval to put up wayfinding and directional signs.
“The goal was very simple – to have directional signs coming into town – but the policies of the county (of San Diego) didn’t allow it in practical ways,” longtime resident and community advocate Vince Ross said at a recent Fallbrook community forum meeting.
Ross made the comments while introducing Lila MacDonald, the CEO of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, who announced at the meeting that the goal of putting up helpful signage in town was finally going to be achieved.
“It’s taken a long time, and the reason it’s getting done now is because the community rallied together and collaborated under the leadership of the chamber of commerce,” MacDonald said. “I’m very excited. It’s like one of those big things where you go, ‘wow, we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.’”
MacDonald, who made several trips to county offices to get approvals and the necessary permits, noted that laws have been updated over the years and that the county is trying to streamline the process to make it easier.
MacDonald went to the county two years ago to get permits for the banners the chamber puts up for the Avocado Festival and the Christmas parade. That move proved valuable in getting the new wayfinding and directional signs, as MacDonald was allowed to simply make a minor amendment to the permits she held for the banners and use the amended permits for the new signs.
“Everybody I’ve worked with at the county has been exceptional,” MacDonald, who was also able to get Department of Public Works officials to join her on a scouting trip of sign locations, said. “I asked them to come out and look at the spots, because I did not want to submit a plan and have them come back to me and say, ‘Oh no, you can’t put one there.’”
MacDonald said 10 signs will be put up, with six signs replacing old county signs like the small blue library signs on Mission Road south of Alvarado. The new wayfinding signs will provide more information with arrows pointing in the direction of where people will not only find the library, but also parking, dining and galleries.
Some signs will feature directional arrows that point people toward town. For example, a new sign that will be viewed by people traveling north on Stage Coach Lane approaching Fallbrook Street will feature a directional arrow pointing left for “Fallbrook Town Center.”
All of the new signs will feature a picture of a delicious-looking halved avocado with “Fallbrook” in big lettering above the avocado and “Avocado Capital of the World” in smaller lettering under the fruit.
The design of the sign had to receive approval from the Fallbrook Community Planning Group and its design review committee. Both groups gave the design a thumbs-up.
“We’re really branding our community,” MacDonald said. “We’ll have a uniform look, which is really what the planning group is excited about.”
Sean Olson of Jim’s Sign Shop in Fallbrook created the design. Jim’s Sign Shop will also produce and install the signs.
“We gave him a vision, and he worked with it,” MacDonald said. “I think it’s pretty spectacular. It’s definitely going to catch your eye. I hung up the mock-up in the (chamber) office, and everyone who sees it says the same thing – ‘that is such a cool sign.’ And that is a big deal because it’s not just us, it’s people from outside the area that just randomly walk in the chamber office.”
The chamber is paying for all the costs associated with the signs, from the county permit fees to insurance coverage. The county mandates that the signs must be 7 feet above the ground and made of breakaway material. The signs can be as big as 4 feet wide by 8 feet high.
MacDonald said Fallbrook is the first unincorporated town to work with the county to get wayfinding and directional signs.
“I feel they’re very important,” MacDonald said of the signs. “One, it brands our community, and two, it helps visitors and locals find their way around. We hope the community loves them.”
MacDonald said the new signs will likely be put up in October.