Stencils help residents know where they live

Stencils help residents know where they live
Associate civil engineer Jim Greenstein spray paints the city’s seventh Latitude 33° North stencil on the corner of Solana Hills Drive and Solana Hills Court. Looking on are Mayor Dave Zito, right, and resident Paul Sims, who created the idea. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — “I wondered how many people know where in the world they are.”

With that thought from Paul Sims, seven Solana Beach streets are now marked with Latitude 33° North stencils.

“I’m a sailor,” the 40-year resident said. “When I bought my first GPS I brought it home and went outside and I saw that my house was just north of 33 degrees latitude.

“The people at the end of my street are on exactly 33 degrees,” he added. “I’m so jealous of them.”

After wondering if his neighbors knew exactly where they lived, he got the idea to add the marking to local sidewalks “so kids going to school would know.”

He presented the idea to City Council members.

“They graciously said they would talk about it,” Sims said. “Then I got a call saying they were going to put my idea to work. I got really excited. Then I started wondering what teachers could do so I made little booklets.”

The five-page brochure is titled “Where in the World Am I?” It includes pictures and explanations of latitudes and longitudes and an exercise to find where about a dozen cities are located using the angles.

There is also a short list of related information such as what a degree of latitude is, the circumference of the Earth and the definition of nautical and statute miles.

He gave the booklets to the principals at Skyline and Solana Vista Elementary schools.

“I’m waiting to see what the response is and if they can use them,” Sims said. “I want to get a feel for if it’s useful or not.”

Jim Greenstein, the city’s associate civil engineer, said he used a Google map to determine the points along 33° north latitude where the stencils would be located. They are primarily on sidewalks and not in front of homes, he said.

Single markings can be found on Coast Highway 101 north of Ocean Street, on Highland Boulevard north of Sun Valley Road and at the corner of Solana Hills Drive and Solana Hills Court.

There are two stencils on Santa Rosita north of Santa Helena and on Sun Valley west of Highland.

“It’s amazing that the mayor and City Council and everybody got behind this,” Sims said. “This is a great city and it’s getting greater all the time.”

“It’s interesting things like this that make it fun,” said Mayor Dave Zito, who was on hand for the final stenciling.

Sims said he would love for Zito to get together with the mayor of the South Carolina city that is also on the 33° north latitude, which appears to be Awendaw, a small fishing town with a population of about 1,300 people.

“I hope that mayor would get on the bandwagon and we can go coast to coast with this,” he said. “Then everybody can learn all about latitude and longitude and know where in the world they are.”

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