San Pedro Overhead Neon Sign Options Rolling Out This Week


Number 1 of three sign options for Downtown San Pedro Gateway Sign project. (Courtesy image)

Number 2 of three sign options for Downtown San Pedro Gateway Sign project. (Courtesy image)

Number 3 of three sign options for Downtown San Pedro Gateway Sign project. (Courtesy image)

It’s time for the public to weigh in on what they want San Pedro’s long-planned lighted archway sign to look like.

The gateway sign, which has been in the works for several years, will go above Sixth Street near Harbor Boulevard as a way to let visitors know there are restaurants, shops and other attractions across from the waterfront.

There are three options on which to vote. All are somewhat similar, featuring simple lettering on a dark blue background. At night, blue neon will light up the sign.

“Hopefully this (process) will get a wide swath of the community” to comment, said Alan Johnson, who helped guide the planning under the umbrella of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District.

The design was aimed at linking into the town’s historic art deco architecture, Johnson said.

“We looked at the buildings around the area like the City Hall, the Maritime Museum,” he said, “and thought about what would have gone with them in their day.”

They wanted to keep the message simple, he said, and the appearance of the sign classy and simple.

“We felt if we tried to pack too much into the sign, it would take away from it,” Johnson said. “Less is more here.”

Even the neon will be simple and straight-forward, without the fancier metal lighted “channels” so often used with those designs.

“It will spill out so it will be readable,” Johnson said, “but we didn’t want different colors.”

The goal is to better highlight San Pedro’s quaint downtown shopping, arts and dining district, which, Johnson said, too often can be not seen as one drives through the town on Harbor Boulevard, where the focus is generally on the waterfront to the east.

While earlier plans called for a fully arched sign spanning the street and anchored on both sides, complications with an existing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power vault in the area forced those plans to change to what now will be a cantilevered design. The sign will be anchored on one side only and will stretch over Sixth Street, near Palos Verdes Street and just west of the Harbor Boulevard corner.

Executing the work will be the San Pedro Electric Sign Co.

Organizers plan to leave the online survey up — both on the Discover San Pedro Facebook page and website — in hopes of gathering at least 500 votes to get a feel for the town’s preference. The three options will also be rolled out in the next week to neighborhood councils and the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Johnson said.

The timing will coincide with the launch of community input for a plan on how to link together the area’s various attractions, such as both the San Pedro and Wilmington waterfronts, downtown areas, and many museums and sights of interest.

The Port of Los Angeles will sponsor a workshop on that topic from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Port of Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club, 100 W. Fifth St., in San Pedro.

Archway-style signs have been used for decades as monument markers throughout California, with some nearby examples to be found in Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, San Diego and Long Beach. Many have been up for decades and are now iconic.

The San Pedro process, though, has been complicated by various Los Angeles city departments needing to be involved. How to deal with existing utility lines also took careful planning along the way.

Back in 2017, it was hoped the sign could be up in about a year following discussions that stretched back some seven years before that.

The consensus now being sought takes in the design, wording, colors and images that will be on the final sign selection.

Early suggestions on what the artistic aim might be included descriptions such as tasteful and historic rather than flashy or trendy — something that will work just as well in 2050 and beyond as it does now.

To take part in the survey, go to or the San Pedro PBID Facebook page.

The three options and survey questions were scheduled to be posted on Monday, Feb. 13.

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Vito Califano

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