A historical beacon atop Mount Diablo flashes to life each Dec. 7. The swiveling light beams over the Bay Area and Central Valley to remind of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Never forget, goes the mantra.
The 1928 beacon, however, is in jeopardy of failing to work this Dec. 7 unless a speedy restoration is done to fix the light at the top of Mt. Diablo State Park, said conservationists and an East Bay lawmaker.
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, introduced a bill that would permit the Save Mount Diablo conservation group to restore the beacon largely with volunteer labor and donations.
"In recent years, the beacon has fallen into deep disrepair," Buchanan said. "We are fortunate that
The Assembly passed her bill 70-0 in June, and sent it on to the Senate, where it is pending.
Beacon backers worry the one-time aerial navigation beacon won't work this Dec. 7 after nearly 50 years of lighting up that night for ceremonies attended by Pearl Harbor survivors and their descendants.
State park officials say the beacon, in use each Dec. 7 since 1964, is an important part of history, but their financially struggling agency can't afford a big fix.
Save Mount Diablo volunteers -- including a retired engineer and a retired state park ranger -- have kept the beacon functioning with improvised maintenance on electrical and
Buchanan's AB1916 would permit the state Department of Parks and Recreation to negotiate an agreement with Save Mount Diablo for the group to do the restoration while adhering to historical restoration guidelines and review by experts.
Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo's executive director, said the restoration would cost much more and take much longer if his group raised the money but let the state parks system do the work under its normal contracting and review. He said volunteers would be harder to use under the state approach.
Initial research suggests a state restoration job could cost more than $100,000, Brown added.
Roland Gaebert, the Mt. Diablo State Park superintendent, said state procedures are aimed at assuring durable restoration work that preserves history.
"This is a noble plan by Save Mount Diablo," Gaebert said, "but the devil is in the details. I don't know enough about how the review and oversight would be done."
Brown said his group would work with experts to protect historical elements.
"State bureaucracy is threatening to make this project more difficult," Brown said. "This plan is a good example of the community working with state parks to protect an important public resource. This can spark the community to come together."
Brown said his group would rev up a fundraising drive once it knows the scope and cost of the project.
Buchanan's bill is backed by a Pearl Harbor survivors group, the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, the East Bay Regional Park District, and the Contra Costa Council.
Famous aviator Charles Lindbergh remotely lit the beacon in 1928 as an aviation landmark for pilots, but it has been used in modern times only on Dec. 7.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.