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Deeming it nothing more than an old advertisement, the City of San Diego approved a proposal to paint over the vintage 40x80-feet Caliente racetrack mural located on the western wall of the historic California Theater and replace it with an advertisement for Newcastle Brown Ale.
As KPBS reports, this proposal was approved with absolute disregard of the “45 year review,” wherein anything that is 45 years or older should be submitted for review for its "historical significance."
"The existing Caliente sign has no association with the historic California Theater and does not itself have historical significance,” KPBS quotes Cathy Winterrowd—Senior Planner for the City of San Diego’s Historical Resources Board as saying.
Thanks to your help, 250 signatures was all it took for the City to listen up and rescind that permit. 600 signatures in "after learning the details surrounding the outdoor space," we were contacted by Heineken International (producers of Newcastle) pleading to be taken off the list of petition targets as they no longer had any interest in the potential advertising space.
The future of the mural is now in the hands of the HRB, who will have a historical resources study on the mural conducted. The results could still go either way. We urge you to keep on supporting and sharing this petition so we can reach our goal and they get the message loud and clear.
Raise your voice and let Ms. Winterrowd and everyone involved in this decision that this work of public art and Agua Caliente’s legacy in general are forever tied to San Diego history. The legendary racetrack was built by a trio known as the “Border Barons”: Baron Long (partial owner of downtown’s U.S. Grant), sports promoter James Coffroth (who was instrumental in bringing ‘The Star of India’ to the SD Harbor in 1926), and Wirt G. Bowman (who at one time was the landowner of Rancho Peñasquitos). Later, it would become the brainchild of illustrious San Diegan John S. Alessio of “Mr. A’s” fame.
A haven for Hollywood starlets and the international elite, the Agua Caliente racetrack was the signature of class during the Prohibition era and during its heyday was the catalyst for an economic boom on both sides of the border.
As its Wikipedia page lists, Caliente set the bar for several industry firsts such as starting gates, the use of safety helmets and “pick six” wagering. Both Phar Lap and Seabiscuit ran and won the Agua Caliente Handicap, which for a time was the richest in North America.
This vintage mural should in fact be deemed what is: historic; and it should be preserved so that future generations can appreciate and admire it.
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