But by the time I encountered the plan again in the early 1990s, in Kalmbach's Track Planning Ideas from Model Railroader (1981), I had learned enough about model railroad layout planning to see and appreciate the track plan's innovative points.
The San Jacinto District was not the first layout I had seen with most of these elements, but I was beginning to see how creating a track plan was an exercise in balance. Sperandeo's track plan was one of the few "theoretical" designs in that era to realistically address the need for adequate aisles, for sufficient staging to create the desired operations intensity, and a variety of operating schemes to address seasonality (and add operating interest). Sperandeo's track plan also exuded a personality – the atmosphere of southern California branch line railroading. This was a refreshing change from many of cookie-cutter layouts I had been seeing that seemed to all be set in the same generic eastern burg.
I was getting an inkling that there was more to model railroading than packing in loops of track. (Would that the masses posting their sorry CAD creations on the Internet might learn the same lesson.) Operating trackage, staging, room for scenery, operational theme, aisles for crew members, etc, all had to be considered in coming up with the track plan. Andy Sperandeo's relatively modest San Jacinto District plan inspired me to build my own knowledge of the myriad subtleties of layout design – a foundation I call upon nearly every day.