The Cambrian

Cambria considers ‘monument’ road sign

A rendering of what a new sign at the north end of Cambria might look like, a style that some consider too modern.
A rendering of what a new sign at the north end of Cambria might look like, a style that some consider too modern. Courtesy illustration

There’s apparently going to be a new sign telling southbound drivers on Highway 1 that they’re entering Cambria.

It’s called a monument sign, and North Coast advisers are recommending that the county invest $40,000 in Cambria-targeted Urban State Highway Account funds toward installing the $51,376 structure. It would be placed near the intersection of Exotic Gardens Drive, Moonstone Beach Drive and Highway 1, and is part of a three-sign project that would include others in San Simeon and San Luis Obispo.

The stretch of Highway 1 that connects the communities is designated as one of a very few All-American Roads, and the federal transportation grant program is linked to that designation. The grant for the three signs is for $385,000, but the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments says total costs have risen to $659,000, including planning, design and permitting, leaving a funding gap of $274,000, which is where the $40,000 would apply.

At a July 16 meeting, the North Coast Advisory Council’s vote came after considerable debate. The successful 7-3 motion included the council option to suggest “some minor revisions on the design,” an image that some NCAC members deemed too modern for Cambria. They said it wouldn’t mesh well with the logo on the monument sign for the town’s southern entrance on Highway 1.

That southerly sign is fairly new, having been redone after its predecessor was hit and destroyed by a car in November 2011.

Any recommendations for changes have to happen fast and may already be too late, according to Supervisor Bruce Gibson and representatives from county Public Works and SLOCOG.

Gibson said the construction deadlines are looming, with bids due to be sent out in two to four weeks, and any delay could endanger the federal transportation grant for all three communities.

Cambria’s sign is the cheapest of the group, with San Simeon’s sign’s projected construction costs to total $107,180 and San Luis Obispo’s $249,480.

All or none

The monument grant is a package deal, so if one community backs out, the signs for all three communities are scrapped, according to Mel McColloch of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, who has shepherded the project for the past seven years. The work was delayed by design and permit approvals, increased costs and the economic downturn.

McColloch said that in July 2007, the chamber called for North Coast artists to submit designs, subsequently approving artwork by Joe Dominguez of Cambria. The design was reviewed by NCAC soon thereafter, according to McColloch and a story that ran in The Cambrian in April 2008. Later, Dominguez became a member of the council, the chamber board and the tourism board.

McColloch said the chamber recently approved adding $3,500 to the monument fund, and the Cambria Tourism Board invested $5,000 during its July 8 meeting.

Some tourism board members also said they didn’t like the new design.

However member Charlie Yates said that rather than delay the project now, the plan is to get the monument installed and then have it repainted later with the same Cambria logo that’s on the southerly sign.