On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Santa Clara Planning Commissioners approved a Comprehensive Sign Program (CSP) for the project’s Parcels 4 and 5, which represents the “city-center” part of the development. The CSP is bounded by restrictions of the Master Community Plan and is aimed at providing dynamic and pedestrian-friendly signage for the new community. The Master Community Plan categorizes signs as gateway signs that will largely be located on the borders of the project, directional signs, tenant signs, super graphics and digital signs that would be available for advertising, public service announcements and community event notifications.
“We’re looking at this as a very special development,” said Andy Davey with Perkins Design that specializes in creating signs for communities. “There are pretty specific entry points in this development and we want to help people understand that they’re actually entering this Related Santa Clara development and we’ve identified key areas where we would look for gateway signage opportunities.”
Commissioner and Councilmember-elect Suds Jain warned against signs that would create light pollution, describing Levi Stadium as a “mini sun” when viewed from afar in places like Portola Valley. Planning Manager Reena Brilliot, said that light pollution had been indicated as a significant impact by the Environmental Impact Report, and that though some mitigation measures will be taken, the pollution won’t be mitigated fully.
“I do not see any reference in the goals, purpose or document that one of the interests of this project is to be all-inclusive, to be multi-lingual, to be a universally accessible place for people,” said Commissioner Priya Cherukuru, emphasizing the need for way-finding signs in multiple languages or that use symbols that are universally recognizable regardless of language spoken or ability.
Perkins responded saying that it’s second nature for his firm to use universal symbols. “We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to understand our signage,” he said.
Regarding super graphics, which are large-scale printed art-inspired images or photos commonly found on the side of buildings or large structures, Commissioner Nancy Biagini broached the idea of incorporating the work of local artists into the images, saying that it would be a strong way to encourage community engagement.
Commissioner Yuki Ikezi expressed concern that residents of Related Santa Clara could feel cut off from the rest of the city as it is located in the northern end that has a more isolated feel than the southern end. Ikezi said that being intentional about creating signs that help residents feel connected to Santa Clara as a whole should be an important part of the plan.
The Commission ultimately approved the CSP plan for Parcels 4 and 5 with the recommendation that City Council consider suggesting that up to 10 percent per hour screen time for digital ads on Tasman Drive be used for PSAs from the City or local nonprofits. Another recommendation was for Council to consider language accessibility for the signs as well as using solar for powering the digital ones and incorporating landscaping around signage.
Anthony Becker and Suds Jain announced their upcoming departures from the Planning Commission. Both won seats on the Santa Clara City Council during the November election.
The Planning Commission meets next on Wednesday, Dec. 9.