Dana Point California has big plans to renovate its commercial town core. Several years of collaborative, public planning have been translated into a comprehensive plan by the urban design firm ROMA Design Group.
The plan has been finalized (click here to see the PDF file), approved by the City Council, and approved by the California Coastal Commission. The City of Dana Point’s Public Works department is in the process of planning the construction work on the streets and sidewalks and is gathering bids from contractors to do that work.
Because of the overall economic crisis and the California state budget crisis, it is unlikely any contracts will be awarded soon, however. It is just a matter of time, however.
There are many, many aspects to the plan, from land-use regulations to sustainability incentives to public art to parking issues.
Today, let’s look at one aspect: wayfinding (in the crushingly strict vocabulary of urban planning).
Way Finding. Way-Finding. Wayfinding. Whatever.
The basic idea of wayfinding is: “the user experience of orientation and choosing a path” while navigating a built environment, or in this case, a small town. In a word, we’re talking mostly about signage.
Wayfinding can sometimes be accomplished through design techniques less overt than signage, of course, but roughly speaking, wayfinding signage is the main method.
So, the Dana Point Town Center Plan sketches out a compelling image of the community as manifested in a commercial center, including a reflection of our natural beauty, unique character and our history.
Signage, especially wayfinding signage, play a huge roll in establishing the look-and-feel and personality of the area.
Something to Consider
In an article published in the Dana Point Historical Society’s newsletter, The News Drogher, Vice-President Barbara Force Johannes, asks some important questions.
“But what historic resources do we have that establish the character of the City of Dana Point and its relationship with the harbor that could enhance the economy of our community?”
“How do we convey our historic memories to our citizens and visitors?”
“Historic resources or districts encourage tourists to stay longer and spend more money while visiting. Such resources create in visitors a desire to return.”
“Sustainable tourism strategies include buildings, landscapes, and roads that give a sense of our city’s place in history and identify the unique character of our community, contributing to its attraction as a unique tourist destination.”
“Many businesses can be located anywhere, and what does Dana Point offer to attract knowledge-based businesses to our community?”
“The City Council has adopted the Town Center Plan that recommends the restoration and preservation of the historic buildings and structures in Town Center.”
These are all great observations and important questions for all of us in Dana Point to ponder. And to put a fine point on my reason for writing this blog post, Ms. Johannes asks:
“What are the next steps in preserving the local character of Woodruff’s Dana Point?”
Please share your thoughts about these questions in the comments section below.
What’s more, I wonder if anyone would be interested in organizing a formal effort to talk with ROMA and everyone involved with the Town Center project, to create the most complete and effective wayfinding plan we can… including one that includes a full consideration of the questions Ms. Johannes asked here.
I am interested and will gladly join in! How about you?