Editorial: A more user-friendly downtown

We support the San Luis Obispo City Council’s recent decision to install signs pointing the way to various city landmarks. It’s about time the city took that simple step to make the downtown more user friendly.

While it’s true there already are some directional signs in the downtown, they are hard to spot, they aren’t uniform in size or color and they aren’t particularly helpful.

The city should be a better host, because if visitors can’t find their way around, they’re going to become frustrated and may bypass San Luis Obispo altogether.

The council will no doubt catch some flak for spending $50,000 on the signs, especially in light of recent news that the city is asking many employees to take a 7 percent cut in pay and benefits.

In that context, every expenditure — no matter how small — is going to be scrutinized, and rightfully so.

We believe the signs are a good investment, though, for a few reasons: The money was already budgeted for city promotions; tourism is vitally important to the city’s economy, generating the sales tax and bed tax that helps pay the bills; and believe it or not, not everyone has a GPS device or iPad at the ready — and even with such help, it’s reassuring to have a location clearly marked.

One caveat: While we like the smaller directional signs, we aren’t convinced the council made the right call when it also approved a large entry monument at Highland Drive and Santa Rosa Street. That sign will cost $185,000, and while a National Scenic Byways Grant will pay for the bulk of it, the city may have to pitch in $50,000.

Under the circumstances, we believe the council would have been wise to pass on making any financial commitment for a monument sign at this time — and revisit it only when there are signs that the city’s budget is in better shape.