SOLANA BEACH — People coming into Solana Beach from the east will soon be doing so via the “Gateway to Sunshine,” an entry sign and monument for the median at Lomas Santa Fe and Highland drives unanimously approved by council at the Jan. 28 meeting.
The city currently has entry signs on the north and south ends of Coast Highway 101 and on Valley Avenue just north of Via de la Valle.
A 2013 traffic-calming project at the intersection of Lomas Santa Fe and Highland that created a large median on Lomas Santa Fe was done so with the understanding that a new entry monument would be included.
The city released a request for proposals in December 2013 and received 10 responses. Five finalists were selected to create more detailed models of their proposals.
The Public Arts Commission reviewed the entries but could not reach a consensus. Members then decided to look at existing sculptures created by well-known artists.
They tentatively settled on a piece titled “Sun Platter” that was later deemed inappropriate for the city.
PAC members Mike Swanson and Brett Reisdorf volunteered to design a sign and monument based on feedback from residents and city staff.
Their efforts resulted in the creation of “Gateway to Sunshine,” which depicts a long serpentine, corten steel “S” shape with cut-outs of an abstract sunset on the high end and the words “Solana Beach” on the low front end facing east.
Solar lights will illuminate the city name at night. Drought-tolerant landscaping will be added.
During the 50-day public review period that ended Dec. 3, the city received about 30 comments. As with all public art, “Gateway to Sunshine” elicited a variety of opinions and emotions.
Close to two-thirds of the people who responded support the project, although some stated the lettering should stand out more.
Jane Schucard wrote that “the overall concept is artistic, interesting and unique.” Jane Morton described it as “lovely and fluid.”
Ted Hoehn disagreed, saying he “would rather not have any ‘public art’ imposed on me.”
“The strange, rust-colored standing (fat) yoga that is already there is not beautiful at all,” he wrote. “I understand the proposed sculpture is similarly unappealing.”
“Our family lives very near this street corner,” Adrienne Sherman wrote. “When we stop at this corner, our children always know from the back seat that we’re ‘almost home!’
“I feel that this sculpture would spoil our experience of returning ‘home,’” Sherman stated. “Public art does not belong here. Please do not ruin the very sacred nature of this sense of home for all of us.”
One resident called the piece “horrendous.” Josh Sherman described it as “tasteless” and said it “will detract from the natural organic feel to the surroundings.” He also said it could be a traffic hazard.
The sculpture is 55 feet long and a little more than 6 feet high at the west end. The lettering will be done in a font used throughout the city.
The estimated cost of construction is $35,000. Money will come from the public arts reserve account, which is funded through the transient occupancy tax paid by hotel visitors. Swanson and Reisdorf were not paid for their work.
The entry sign and monument are expected to be installed by summer.