A local conservation group may now work to restore a nearly century-old beacon perched atop Mount Diablo after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Tuesday to speed its restoration.
Authored by state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), the newly passed Assembly Bill 1916 allows California's Department of Parks and
Recreation to work directly with the non-profit group Save Mount Diablo to rehabilitate the Eye of Diablo, an 84-year-old beacon in Mount Diablo State Park that is the focus of a yearly Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony.
The legislation waives the typical contracting requirements used for state park projects and should allow Save Mount Diablo to provide volunteers and donations to make long-needed repairs to the weathered beacon under state supervision.
"During these difficult budget times, it is critical that these types of public private partnerships are encouraged whenever possible,"
Buchanan said in a statement. "We all want the repairs to the beacon to move ahead swiftly and cost effectively."
For nearly 50 years, the lighting of the Eye of Mount Diablo has been the centerpiece of a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony hosted by Save Mount
Diablo and the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
This year, the Eye of Diablo will need significant repairs and restoration in order to be ready for the annual Dec. 7 ceremony, according to Buchanan's office.
Ron Brown, Save Mount Diablo's executive director, said the passage of AB 1916 gives him hope that the longtime landmark will be on track
to shine by that date.
"I want to move forward quickly to work out an agreement with the Parks Department that will address the important historical and mechanical
issues, and still have the beacon be operational in time for the Dec. 7 ceremony," he said.
Installed in 1928 by Standard Oil, the beacon was used by the likes of Charles Lindbergh and other pioneering aviators. The light was turned off in 1941 after the Pearl Harbor bombing to ensure the Japanese could not use it as a target, according to Save Mount Diablo.
The Eye of Diablo was relit for the first time in 1964, and has shone every Dec. 7 since.