Guest Editorial

Cielo’s commercial plaza, a faux-Tuscan Disneyland, is going to look worse soon, unless the county obeys environmental and scenic highway protection statutes and the community plan and zoning ordinance. We want, we demand, that the character and visual aesthetics of our scenic river valley and canyon corridor be preserved and protected from the riff-raff of a proposed, additional lighted 20-foot marquee, akin to multiplex theater signs common to dense urban areas. Removing one of the three existing approved signs to permit a “minor deviation” for this new giant signage is also unacceptable.
Local grassroots residents and HOA leaders need to voice strong objections to the proposed lighted monument sign structure. Cielo is proposing this as a “minor deviation” to their existing approved “site plan.” Ludicrous. At the very least this requires a full blown “Site Plan Modification” permit application and related public hearing and notice, not slinking through the county’s back door with a “minor deviation.” It should be denied, either way.
Cielo came to locally elected grassroots community planners with their “site plan” in 2003, their own architect even alluding to its “Disneyland-like” style and facade. Their laughable marketing study used a 15-mile radius showing customers will be attracted to this isolated commercial shelf above a narrow highway bend. This 1984-zoned plaza was way back then to be a future crossroads intersection for Highway 680, and subsequently is a long defunct bitter memory of 30 prior years of bypass highway planning flushed down the political toilet. The true market for this plaza today, and forever, are the few hundred homes east of the Covenant. None of us need a single sign to know it’s there.
Despite grassroots objections to the Cielo plaza site plan by our locally elected advisory community planners in 2003, especially signage and building bulk, height and scale, our county government blew its usual raspberry at us and approved. Subsequently, Cielo’s marketers have been back at it, further degrading the area with banners and twirling street signs. Now, in a “Hail Mary,” Cielo commercial owners hope that a 20-by-8-foot additional lighted marquee structure will rescue this Tuscan Titanic. We who live here, not the out-of-town investors or scared lenders, or our county government, have to live with the permanent visual/aesthetic consequences to the scenic corridor.
Write brief letters today expressing your views about the proposed Cielo monument signage fronting Del Dios Highway, located at 18055 Calle Ambiente, to the San Dieguito Planning Group Chair at Box 2789, RSF, 92067 and to the County Dept. of Planning and Land Use, 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego 92123, attn: Michelle Chan (Ref: Site Plan S01-062-1; e-mail to michelle.chan@sdcounty.ca.gov.
This new monument signage will permanently degrade the character of this scenic highway corridor and is not in the spirit or intent of the “S” scenic area special design designator in the zoning code applicable to this site.

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