Although groundbreaking for the new Ramona library is scheduled for Nov. 16, a few elements of the project were still being discussed at the Design Review Board’s Oct. 29 meeting.
Architect Philip Pape, along with Tom Fincher, chief of project management with the county department of general services, and Dick Wayman of Friends of the Ramona Library, were at the meeting representing the library project. Pape was seeking approval for signage and stucco color.
Asking for some leniency with the design guidelines regarding size of signage lettering, Pape said, “What we’re asking for is the allowance to exceed 12 inches maximum.”
Pape said they were hoping for 18 inches on the uppercase letters on the monument sign, which will be on a curved wall at the corner in front of the building planned at 13th and Main streets.
As the members gave their opinions, they appeared to be pretty evenly divided on whether to allow larger letters.
Board member Rob Lewallen said he could not support 18 inches, only a maximum of 15 inches, saying once they allow that, everyone else will want to do it.
Board member Greg Roberson said he didn’t have a concern about the lettering size as it was not advertising a business.
Carol Wylie, board president, agreed.
“I always felt our requirements for the letter size sometimes doesn’t work that well when you have a large building,” she said. “I think because of proportion, sometimes signage, if it’s not obnoxious, if it’s something like ‘library’ could enhance the design of the building in some cases. That’s something I’ve always struggled with, but I know we have guidelines and I understand where Rob is coming from, because they are written and we tell other people you can’t do it.”
But, she said she agreed with Roberson because it is the library and does not advertise a product or business.
“I think I would be OK with what you have,” she told Pape.
Board member Evelyn McCormick said she had to agree with Lewallen, only because the board tries so hard to follow the design guidelines now, “that it’s hard for us to enforce if we don’t follow what we’ve written down.”
“The irony that we have here is, according to your sign ordinance, we could make a sign three times bigger than this just as long as the letters weren’t that big,” responded Pape.
Because of the way the sign guidelines are written, they don’t really fit, Pape said, and that was why they were asking for leniency.
Board Member Carol Close said the problem with the guidelines is that if they bend for one, then they have to bend for everyone else.
Representing the Ramona Chamber of Commerce, board member Dan Vengler said he felt just the opposite.
“I’d love to see the businesses in town have larger signs,” he said, mentioning some businesses that are not easily noticed with the signage restrictions.
“You’ve got a building here that nobody is going to miss,” he said, pointing to the library rendering. “I just wish they (signs) were a little bit taller for businesses.”
Vengler said he believes that just because it was the library wasn’t a good enough reason to justify the larger letters. The board hears requests for larger lettering at just about every meeting, said Vengler. “This is just an ongoing battle.”
After reviewing the library monument sign, with lowercase letters of 12 inches, Lewallen decided he could go with 16 inches for the uppercase letters.
“I like it because it’s a better balance,” he said.
If someone’s signage is less than half of what their allocation is, there should be some trade-offs, said Roberson.
“We’re well below the maximum of what we could put up for signs,” Pape said.
Pape also asked the board to consider another sign above the door in front that would say “Library” in all caps that would be 15 inches high.
The board agreed to allow the monument sign with 16-inch uppercase letters and 12-inch lowercase, 15-inch letters for the “library” sign over the front doorway, and up to 18 inches for the “Ramona” sign over the doorway facing the parking lot, because it does not face Main Street. The motion incorporated several other related library project items. Vengler abstained from voting.
The other major element of the library design that had not been resolved was the color of the stucco. Pape displayed large stucco samples of four different colors, along with stone samples, but board members said they needed to see the whole palette. Because the design incorporates stone and two tones of stucco, members said they had a hard time visualizing all the colors together.
“I can visualize things pretty well,” said Roberson. “Putting this all together, we’ve got two of the three colors and a rendering that doesn’t reflect that at all. I don’t really think that’s fair for the board to make a decision.”
Close said she liked the previous “mustard” or “ochre” color because it tied in with other buildings. She said she just didn’t like the “Halloween orange” that had originally been suggested.
Wylie said she would like to see all the material colors presented together.
Pape told the board that at the last meeting he brought the whole palette but the objection seemed to be about the bright stucco colors, not the rest of the materials.
Wylie replied that it’s just a matter of seeing what goes best with everything. She said she’d rather go with a brighter color but would need to make sure “if I was going to go with one of the brightest ones that it works with the rest of the color scheme.”
With members commenting it would be easier to look at the material colors in daylight, Wylie suggested the samples be brought to the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 16 with the hope that some of the members could attend. Wylie said the next meeting would be scheduled three days later, Nov. 19, because of the holidays. Pape said the samples could be kept until the meeting for other members to view. Lewallen’s motion included making a decision on the colors at the Nov. 19 meeting.
After looking at the landscaping plans, Close saw plants that freeze were still on the plans. She amended the motion to add that the landscaping should have trees and plants that don’t freeze.
In other issues with the project, Pape said they have negotiated with the Ramona Tree Trust and other community groups involved in saving the eucalyptus trees that would front the library site. If they get the green light from CalTrans, Pape said they can keep the trees along Main Street.