Where Am I???????

Let’s say you – and your family or friends or whatever companions you choose – are going to take a trip on California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway.

Pacific Coast Highway runs the length of California:

You’re starting in San Diego, heading north, and ready for an adventure!

On the Coast Highway you’ll eventually approach the last three northern coastal towns in San Diego County – Encinitas, then Carlsbad, and then Oceanside:

You enter Encinitas and soon you see this landmark sign arching over Coast Highway:

No doubt about where you are!

You continue to head north, and you’re greeted by the Carlsbad sign, also arching over Coast Highway:

And then – Oceanside.  You’re on Coast Highway at Mission Blvd. in the heart of downtown:

Or are you?

No sign.

Where’s the sign?

Your guidebook has this picture of the Oceanside sign in the 1920s, right there at the same intersection, Coast Highway and Mission Blvd.:

And it says that sign was taken down in 1925 – it was in the middle of the street and drivers kept hitting it.

Sure, that makes sense.

But Encinitas and Carlsbad have those landmark signs on Coast Highway…

That look so cool, especially lit up at night:

Shouldn’t Oceanside have a sign like that?

It should.

But it won’t.

Apparently the Powers That Be – in this case, an organization called “MainStreet Oceanside” – have decided that Oceanside will have a landmark…

Something.

But…it won’t be on Coast Highway.

It won’t say “Oceanside.”

It won’t even say “O’side,” the city’s widely used nickname.

In fact, in won’t say anything but…

“O”

And it won’t actually be a sign, either.

Let’s start with the where.

According to this November 17 article:

Rather than on Coast Highway at the main downtown intersection (blue circle) it will be a block north and a block west (white circle) at the intersection of Tremont Street and Pier View Way:

So anyone driving – or walking – the Coast Highway won’t even see it.

Now let’s talk about the what.

Instead of Oceanside’s name or nickname – O’side – the sign will be a big “O” suspended over the intersection:

Which someday may or may not look like this artist rendering:

The design was the creation of partners Ann Worth and Sarah Hirschman at Object Projects, a San Diego-based architecture firm. 

Apparently MainStreet Oceanside couldn’t find an architecture firm in Oceanside, though I found a half-dozen with a quick visit to the city’s Chamber of Commerce website.

The Object Projects website offers this description of their design:

“The Oceanside ‘O’ is the winning competition entry for new sculptural signage and placemaking element…The project…is composed of a series of delicate discs suspended above a frequently activated intersection. The stainless-steel discs represent the numerous constituent groups which make up the City, while the discs’ mirrored finish reflects the surrounding cityscape and sunlight as it disappears over the Pacific nearby.  The elements are held in a delicate balance of tension, a phenomenon integral of the office’s ongoing research…construction commencing in Spring 2022.”

Yeah, I can envision a visitor to Oceanside looking up at this thing:

And saying, “Obviously, the stainless-steel discs represent the numerous constituent groups which make up the City.”

Actually, I envision visitors – and residents and anyone who sees this thing – saying:

“How the hell do I take a picture with that???”

You know – an easy photo op, like this:

And if a photo op looks like this…

What about this says “Oceanside”?

Nothing.

Which is especially interesting, considering that the December 2020 “Request for Proposals for Oceanside Landmark Sign…”

…specifically says in its “What We Are Looking For” section:

“Sign should be ‘Instagramable’ – i.e., accessible to take photos of and/or with to promote walkability of Downtown”

I guess the architects at Objects Projects missed that.

I guess the architects at Objects Projects also missed this, also from the “What We Are Looking For” section:

“The word ‘Oceanside’ or ‘Oside’ should be the main focal point”

But instead of that…this:

No “Oceanside.”  No “Oside.”

Nowhere.

They might as well install a sign that looks like this:

What Oceanside is getting, said architect Worth,

“It’s almost like an urban-scale chandelier.”

Nowhere in that Request for Proposals did I find anything that suggested the city’s landmark sign should look like a “chandelier.”

“Urban-scale” or other-scale.

So, a sign that isn’t a sign, that doesn’t say “Oceanside,” and that’s not located on the Coast Highway.

You may have picked up on the fact that I think this is a really bad idea.

It’s also a really expensive one.

According to The Coast News article,

“The original budget for the project was $100,000 but jumped to $115,000 due to equipment upgrades…The sign will be mostly funded by the Downtown Business Improvement District, which is an assessment district managed by MainStreet Oceanside…Any other costs beyond that $115,000 figure will be picked up by MainStreet Oceanside or potential grant funding.”

But lest you think taxpayers are off the hook for this, I’ll mention this mess also involves Oceanside city staff, the Oceanside City Council, and the California Coastal Commission.

All of whose salaries are funded by…

Lastly – but far from leastly – let’s go back to that Coast News headline:

It’s hard for me to believe that whoever wrote that headline was unaware that Big ‘O’ is a common term for orgasm.

We talk about it, we agonize about it, we joke about it, but the point is – we say “Big O.”

And we write and/or read books about it:

But…

Maybe that’s what the folks at MainStreet Oceanside intended?

And instead of people saying, “Meet me at Tremont and Pier View Way,” they’ll say, “Meet me at the Big O.”

Now that will be a photo op.

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