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November 19, 2013 / Linda Hartong


Harlan Ware (1902-1967) (whose full name was William Harlan Ware) was born in Lakota, North Dakota, and educated in the public schools of Winnetka, Illinois. He was a police reporter for the City News Bureau in Chicago. He wrote novels, plays, and radio scripts. His best-known scripts are for the radio programs “The Bartons,” written from 1939 to 1941, and “One Man’s Family,” written from 1944 to 1959 for Carlton E. Morse. 

He also lived in Carmel for a time and his daughter Ciji grew up here. She remembers this quote from one of her Dad’s books.

“….when Pinkie and I wandered into that blessed charming, quiet, tree-green village of Carmel-by-the-Sea I said to Pinkie – what is the charm of this place? Other towns have water, trees, low brick buildings

– what is it that tourists come to see – and then it dawned on me – no signs
– yes sir – tourists leave their own sign- bespattered towns to travel miles and miles to enjoy the good taste and beauty.”

Portrait of Harlan Ware courtesy of his daughter, Ciji Ware.

About Ciji : Ciji Ware

Signage is closely regulated in Carmel. And if you wonder why, look at these examples of sign-bespattered towns courtesy of Google Earth.



Municipal Codes require that “…business signs create a unique village character, which encourages exploration and discovery,”


such as this sign at the entrance to a Courtyard.

Did you know that Carmel’s code allows only four types of signs in the business community? —









The Serena Court sign was presented several times









and interior.



Signs are kept at a minimum to avoid visual clutter and must be approved in advance by the Planning Commission.



They must be simple in graphic or pictorial design 






and made of natural materials. 

Image 33


Only one sign per business is allowed, unless it has more than one entrance. 

Neon signs are not allowed.

Balloons, streamers, moving displays and other attention-getting devices are discouraged.

When I sit in City Hall researching, I hear shopkeepers ask about signs constantly. The owners of the Edgemere Cottages


finally get it right.


And when we ask about a sign for our cottage, we are giving acceptable materials and size. 

I am grateful that Municipal Codes attend  to these small details and keep the “human scale” of Carmel.

I find this IMG_9462

so much more inviting than this


google earth

I am more likely to go into these antiques stores



Than this one

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 3.40.51 PM

google earth

I prefer the look of this invitation to Mexican food


To this one

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 12.41.38 PM

google earth

Shopping for toys look like more fun here


Than here

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 3.38.06 PM

google earth

The scale of these shops and their signs feel more personal and friendly.

And this smaller, more human-sized scale, is one of Carmel’s most charming aspects. Right Harlan?



Leave a Comment
  1. Carol / Nov 19 2013 1:50 am

    Thanks for this informative blog on Carmel signs! And once again, your photos add so much.

  2. Annie Westlake / Nov 19 2013 2:21 am

    Oh, now you’ve done it. This so whetted my appetite for Carmel, I just ordered Ciji Ware’s book “The Cottage by the Sea,” and I will be making my way down to the Svensgaard Inn to read it in front of a roaring fireplace, with a skirt steak sandwich from Nielson Bros. by my side. Nice info on the signs; we have the same restrictions here in Nevada City. It certainly adds to the charm of our quaint gold rush town. Thanks for brightening my day.

  3. patricia / Nov 19 2013 2:33 am

    Hi, I love this post. I live in Cannon Beach, Oregon and love the similarities in our cities, the signage issue being one of them. The city of Carmel has done a wonderful job keeping their beautiful city
    liveable for people. thank you for this info, patricia

  4. / Nov 19 2013 3:16 am

    Good for you, Linda! best, Mary

  5. Betty / Nov 19 2013 4:32 am

    It is amazing what a difference these wonderful sings make in a town. Just another lovely aspect of Carmel’s charming character. Wish it was like that around here!
    Thank you for your great photographs.

  6. jeanette sclar / Nov 19 2013 5:05 pm

    Can’t wait to see your cottage sign!!!

  7. Michael Smith / Nov 19 2013 9:35 pm

    What are best two months out of the year weather wise! Carmel is obviously a well run town. Michael

  8. Heather / Nov 22 2013 1:40 am

    If only we had this type of wonderful zoning everywhere…visual pollution and signs are out of control in this country.
    Great job Aunt Linda!

  9. lynn momboisse / Nov 23 2013 8:26 pm

    Thank you Linda! – Another reason to love this town. Lynn

  10. Peggy from pa / Nov 25 2013 6:02 pm

    What a great post. Wish I lived there. I visited once and would love to make a trip back.

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