Project Lead

Tourism is a major economic engine in Santa Cruz, and being able to easily navigate is critical to a positive visitor experience. In 2010 the City launched a wayfinding effort to evaluate and improve upon the experience of navigating around Santa Cruz.

The main goals and objectives of the Wayfinding project include the following:

  1. To create and implement a user-friendly and visible navigational system that will guide visitors and residents to and from City of Santa Cruz destinations
  2. To market Santa Cruz assets, including entertainment, cultural, historical, outdoor, and other venues and activities
  3. Support unified messaging for the City of Santa Cruz that can be reflected in the Wayfinding signage and carried throughout other aspects of the City’s marketing efforts
  4. To enhance the success and market potential for arts, entertainment, outdoor recreation, and other tourist sectors that build on core Santa Cruz assets.
  5. To help direct visitors to Downtown, the Boardwalk, UCSC, the Harbor and other destinations from Santa Cruz’s major arteries as well as ease their wayfinding with the downtown core.
sc wayfinding 1
wharf wayfinding

More than 20 firms responded to an RFP for phase one analysis. The consultant team of MERJE Design, Lance Wyman, Timerie Gordon and Rick Engineering met with a diverse group of stakeholders, completed an evaluation of existing conditions and prioritized recommendations and strategy for improvements.

The Wayfinding Plan was adopted by City Council April 26, 2011 and the report can be viewed here.

The report considers the variety of tools that users may encounter as they navigate to and through Santa Cruz, and recommends an overarching goal of decreasing visual clutter while communicating clear, friendly and integrated messaging on multiple platforms, including web, phone, signage and print materials. Achieving this goal will require continued and ongoing leadership in a complex environment of multiple stakeholder interests and evolving navigational platforms. First priority projects recommended to be initiated include the following:

  • Work with Caltrans to update highway signage
  • Update parking and vehicular directional signage programs
  • Develop pedestrian signage between the Downtown and Beach Area
  • Develop bicycle signage for the West Cliff and San Lorenzo River Levee loops
  • Develop orientation and online map, and hotel staff training
  • Develop primary gateways into Santa Cruz (Ocean Street and Mission Street) including gateway signage
  • Update and expand banner program to include district banners

Unique approaches will be required for different projects, however the partnerships developed in the first phase of this project with stakeholders and the Steering Committee will provide a key foundation for implementation.

Wharf Master Plan

The Wharf was originally built as a hub for the economic development of the city and region. As of 2015, it’s a century old.


The Housing and Community Development Division is a core component of the Economic Development Department.