ENCINITAS — On Oct. 7, 2010, Encinitas celebrated the 10th anniversary of the installation of the second Encinitas sign. The old sign came down in 1937 to make way for the expansion from four lanes in place of the original two-lane concrete road.
The state roads through small towns, such as Encinitas, were causing bumper-to-bumper car jams along Coast Highway 101, so the state took 20 feet to widen the west side of the road.
The inspiration to create a town sign came from the then-manager of La Paloma Theatre, T. J. Lewis. The design came from the art deco figures of the 1925 Encinitas Hotel, south of the theater. The original sign properties were only from black and white photos so no one knew the sign color for certain. Longtime resident and historian Ida Lou Coley, with her historical vision, interviewed five people who had been here during the old sign’s existence. Most were a little hazy about its description. It was Rex Truax, living in Northern California’s Red Bluff now, who immediately remembered the sign’s dark green background with white letters.
In 1988, Peder Norby, director of Downtown Encinitas MainStreet at that time, championed the sign request to City Council two years after Encinitas was incorporated. At the time money was the problem for the city. Patience paid off because 10 years later City Council approved the expenditure in April of 1988. The council liked the idea of celebrating the city’s 14th year of incorporation and lit the sign Oct. 7, 2000.
It was a festive occasion when Downtown Encinitas MainStreet put on a gala celebration for the inauguration of our new Encinitas sign. Coast Highway 101 was closed and a crowd of 1,000 came for the fun. The new sign had a little stutter start. Two severe rain and wind storms proved that there was a danger the sign would break loose from its attached cable. The original sign was 40 feet wide and the new creation was 80 feet wide. The structure needed more stability. The contractor, Ultraneon Sign Co., recommended a steel truss suspension.
The total cost of the installation and new fabrication was $30,000.