City Decision On Caliente Sign Reconsidered

By Angela Carone
December 15, 2011

The Caliente advertisement on the side of the historic California Theater dates back to the 1960s. It may be painted over soon. Photo by: Pamela Schreckengost
Last month, the city’s Historic Resources staff approved a permit to paint over the vintage Caliente sign on the western side of the California Theater with a beer advertisement.

The decision was decried by historic preservation groups and a petition to save the sign circulated on Facebook. We received a number of comments on our story.

The city has reconsidered and canceled the permit issued to Valerio Resources Inc, the Chula Vista sign company hoping to sell advertising space on the theater wall.

Cathy Winterrowd is a senior planner with the city of San Diego's Development Services department (which oversees the Historic Resources staff). She approved the initial permit.

After consulting with the city attorney’s office, Winterrowd concluded:

"We actually do have the authority to look at the historic significance of the sign itself. I had evaluated the proposal within the context of the impact to the California Theater, and whether painting a new sign over an old sign would adversely effect the building. I did not evaluate the sign as a stand alone historical resource."

In fact, the Caliente sign has never been officially evaluated as a possible historical artifact.

If Valerio Resources still wants to advertise on the space currently occupied by the Caliente sign, the company must develop a new proposal that takes into consideration the possible historical nature of the sign.