Sign for SLO city gateway seems pricey

The San Luis Obispo gateway sign on Highway 101 at the city corporation yard is obscured by weeds.
The San Luis Obispo gateway sign on Highway 101 at the city corporation yard is obscured by weeds.

We know the cost of a gallon of gas, a loaf of bread and a medium latte. We buy these items on a regular basis, so it’s no shock when we plunk down a $5 bill at the coffee shop and get a handful of change in return.

But we have never so much as browsed for a big monument sign, so we aren’t going to pretend to know whether $250,000 is a ridiculously exorbitant price to pay for the San Luis Obispo gateway sign to be built on Highway 1. (The city of San Luis Obispo is kicking in half the cost, and the remainder will be covered by a federal grant from the 2006 National Scenic Byway Program.)

As signs go, this one is quite attractive. It’s big — the highest portion will be 21 feet tall — and it includes Spanish tile and a nifty mission tower, complete with bell. Yes, it seems expensive — after all, $250,000 would buy half of a house — but this sign is going to be around for along time, so we do want something decent.

What really troubles us, though, is this: The city hasn’t shown that it can take care of the gateway signs it already has.

City Councilman Dan Carpenter — who voted against spending city money on the Highway 1 sign — was right when he noted that other monument markers on Highway 101 are “sitting out there in the weeds where people can’t see them.”

The city is acting a bit like a kid who wants an expensive pair of new jeans when there are perfectly good ones heaped in a tangled mess on the bedroom floor. So get your act together, city, and keep those weeds mowed. Prove to us that you deserve those new jeans!

And while you’re at it, why not see whether you can economize a bit on that Highway 1 sign? (Maybe you could sub in a few brickbats for the tiles.)

Do that, and we’ll bring a monumentally tasteful bouquet to the sign’s unveiling. We might even spring for a round of lattes.

Water board flows cash to preserve

The Central CoastRegional Water Quality Control Board earns an against-the-grain bouquet for allocating $350,000 to the purchase of the 900-acre Pismo Preserve, even though its staff had advised against it. Board Chairman Jean-Pierre Wolff of San Luis Obispo, along with several Pismo Preserve supporters who attended the meeting, helped persuade the board that it would be aworthwhile investment.

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County still has a way to go to raise the $12 million needed by the end of August. But it is achingly close; at last count, it was only $600,000 shy of the goal. If you’ve been on the fence about contributing, now is the time. Go to http://lcslo.org to learn more.

A story from Paso Robles with heart

We love a good mystery, so when the Case of the Heart of Stones broke this week in Paso Robles, we were hooked.

In case you missed the story in Monday’s Tribune, we’re referring to the sweet, heart-shaped ring of rocks placed around a tree in Downtown City Park in Paso Robles.

The stones have been there awhile — by some accounts, as long as 30 years — but they became the focus of attention recently after Paso Robles resident Matt Browne posted a picture of the heart on his Facebook page. That led to speculation about the origin of the heart. So far, there’s been no definitive explanation. That’s fine with us; the mystery adds to the romance, as far as we’re concerned.

We offer big bouquets of red roses to all the characters in this story: to Matt Browne; to those who contributed their memories and stories about this landmark; to parks staff, for letting the stone heart remain in place all these years; and, last but not least, to those who created this special heart in downtown Paso Robles.