Balboa Park’s California Tower reopens
The California Tower in Balboa Park officially reopened to the public on Jan. 1 for the first time since 1935. Government officials and park leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tower, which is part of the 100-year-old California Building and is now home to the Museum of Man. The building was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
The tower opens just in time to kick off the centennial celebration of the historic exposition, which put San Diego on the map as an international port city made accessible through the construction of the Panama Canal. According to the Museum of Man, the California Building has been mentioned more in American architectural studies than any other building in San Diego. It is included in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the California Quadrangle, and the tower is also recorded in the Historic Buildings Survey in the Library of Congress.
Tickets to ascend the tower for unequaled views of Balboa Park cost approximately $20, and may be purchased at museumofman.org. Park staff recommends purchasing tickets in advance, as same-day tickets many often be unavailable. Further instructions are available on the Museum of Man’s website.
Cygnet brings ‘Sons of the Prophet’ to San Diego
Inspired by a true story about a high school prank gone wrong, “Sons of the Prophet” is about two gay brothers dealing with tragedy in their run down Pennsylvania town. After their father dies, the brothers are left on their own, and as a result, their suffering and attempts to cope unfold with comedic results. Old Town’s Cygnet Theatre brings Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize finalist, directed by Rob Lutfy, to the stage Jan. 15 – Feb. 15, in its San Diego premier.
“We see so much humor and pathos in these layered people,” Lutfy said in a press release. “Karam portrays a uniquely American phenomenon. It’s an immigrant story. The world of ‘Sons of the Prophet’ is just as complicated as the conflict in the Middle East: present over past, the new world over the old world and a fall from a more prosperous, meaningful past.”
Previews begin Jan. 15 with an opening night Jan. 24 and “Out at Cygnet” on Jan. 28, sponsored by Aladdin Lebanese Restaurant. Tickets start at $32, with discounts available for children, seniors, active-duty military and groups. Visit cygnettheatre.com or call 619-337-1525.
SANDAG offers $15M in grants
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently announced $15 million in grants to fund local smart growth and active transportation projects. Under its TransNet Growth Incentive Program and TransNet Active Transportation Grant Program, the intergovernmental planning agency will accept applications through March 20 for civic projects promoting smart growth, walking, biking and transit use. Approximately $12 million in smart growth funds and $3 million for active transportation are available. The funding comes from the TransNet half-cent sales tax collected throughout the region. Only projects or organizations within San Diego County and the cities in the region may apply directly for funding. Nonprofits wishing to apply must do so in conjunction with a local municipality. For more information, visit sandag.org/cycle3grants.
Water Authority’s turf replacement program runs dry
The San Diego County Water Authority announced its WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program would cease operating, citing lack of funds exhausted by customer demand. Started in 2012, the program replaces water-intensive turf grass with more hydro-efficient landscapes throughout the region.
After the Water Authority completes its list of pending projects, more than 1,000 turf replacement projects covering more than 1 million square feet of grass will have been implemented. Staff estimate these projects will save approximately 1,350 acre-feet of water over the next decade. For perspective, one acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons.
Water Authority officials saw a large spike in rebate applications during the latter half of 2014, when an average of 30 applications per month in 2013 and early 2014 jumped to an average of 164 applications per month. The spike was credited to increased awareness of the statewide drought. Turf removal rebates are still available to county residents and businesses at $2 per square foot through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Although the turf replacement program will soon end, there are other programs administered by the Water Authority that help residents and businesses reduce their water usage, including rebate programs for high efficiency toilets, high efficiency washing machines and rain barrels. Water-efficient plant sales, an online home water-use calculator and classes on installing WaterSmart landscapes are also provided by the County Water Authority. For more information, visit watersmartsd.org.