The watermelon rock near a Bishop Peak trailhead is gone yet again after a brief return for Christmas.
Robert Hill, San Luis Obispo’s natural resource manager, said in an email that the city learned the rock had again been painted like a watermelon slice from an email sent by a Tribune reporter Dec. 26. Hikers noticed the repainted rock Christmas Day, but it’s not clear when it was repainted.
Hill said the rock — which was first colorfully decorated in early November — was washed clean by rangers Dec. 27, 2017.
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Hill said the total cost to the city was a “handful of staff time hours with existing equipment.” The Tribune requested clarification on cost but did not receive a response as of early Tuesday evening.
There are no leads on who the vandal or vandals are. If caught, and if the city decides to press charges, the crime of vandalism could carry a felony penalty if the repair costs exceed $1,000 and a misdemeanor if costs are under $1,000.
“This has been a very disappointing series of events,” Hill wrote. “In the city’s Open Space network, including Bishop Peak, all natural and cultural resources are protected under municipal code for the benefit of present and future generations.”