City crews are installing the last of 195 new, bigger street signs to help older drivers and tourists better navigate Santa Barbara’s roads. Transportation engineer Derrick Bailey said the city was already planning to replace faded signs and add new ones, so it took the opportunity to rethink some design choices.
Both the old signs and the new ones use a font called Mission, which is unique to Santa Barbara and dates back to at least the 1960s. But the new signs, with letters a few inches bigger, do away with the white border, street name suffix, and block number to keep dimensions down. “We’re very sensitive to sign size in Santa Barbara,” explained Bailey in an email. “You’ll notice cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego typically don’t use suffixes on their overhead street signs, either.”
The typical design for street signs in California uses standard highway series font with 12-inch uppercase letters, and 10-inch lowercase letters. Santa Barbara’s have 10-inch first letters and 8-inch other letters. This round of new signs cost $42,692, or about $218 for each sign’s fabrication and installation. The money came from the city’s streets fund, which is a combination of gas taxes, utility taxes, and Measure A revenue. Some downtown areas and smaller streets aren’t getting the new signs yet because the additional work hasn’t been funded, Bailey said.