Ramona Street extension draws protest
Several residents of Ramona expressed their concerns to the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) over the proposed extension of Ramona Street.
“We’ve been told that the extension of Ramona Street would be of insignificant impact,” said Carmen La Belle during the Dec. 5 meeting of the planning group. “I’m here to tell you that we are significantly impacted and the only thing that is insignificant seems to be the residents.”
La Belle, who lives just north of the proposed extension, stated that with the current plan her home would be 12 feet from the road and have a 12-foot wall erected in her backyard.
“If this plan goes through, I will have to drive backwards into my garage, since there will be no room to turn around,” she said.
Affected homeowners also voiced objections at the November planning group meeting, when Ed Zielanski of the Capital Improvements Projects section of the county Department of Public Works presented a status report to the planners. The planning group in July 2005 submitted the project to extend Ramona Street from Boundary Avenue to Warnock Drive as a priority project and it is No. 6 on the top 10 road projects for Ramona.
“There is a reason why this section of road was left unimproved,” said RCPG member Carolyn Dorroh. “A 36-inch diameter aqueduct and its breather are still in that easement today and presents challenges to the project.”
On Dec. 2, Dorroh, along with several homeowners from the area, presented their concerns to Supervisor Dianne Jacob. According to Dorroh, Jacob agreed that there were several flaws in the plan.
“She (Jacob) stated that the proposal did not meet county road standards for pipelines, intersections, setback clearances or driveway locations,” said Dorroh.
In a motion to the RCPG, Dorroh asked that the issue be taken off the RCPG top 10 list and the budgeted funds be spent on different improvements to Ramona.
Dorroh stated that during the meeting with Jacob, the supervisor said that the plan has been designed poorly and the county has not budgeted enough money to handle the challenges for the project.
“Right now, with the economic crisis, the county is not anxious to dig into money pots to support this project,” Dorroh said. “The county is actually looking for places to cut funding.”
Aspects of the project are being investigated by members of Jacob’s staff and county engineers.
“I would be willing to wait and hear what the county has to say,” said RCPG Chair Helene Radzik. “If we learn that the project would require too much money, then great, let’s move on to the next project.”
Residents of the area were given time to address the RCPG.
“I asked Mr. Zielanski what his plan B for this property was,” said Warnock Road resident Donna Meyers. “He said there was no plan B. I don’t know if Supervisor Jacob has made a decision, but at least we found someone who was willing to listen to the residents of the last agricultural preserve in Ramona.”
Myers said she would have a 12-foot high road in the area where her house eve is 11 feet high.
“This road bank would come to about 13 feet from my house,” she said.
It has been suggested that relocating the aqueduct features would eliminate the need to elevate the road.
Board member Chris Anderson did not agree that the money for the project should be redirected.
“We have had this issue on the books a long time,” said Anderson. “I would encourage us not to randomly pick things in Ramona to work on but concentrate on this current issue.”
Anderson suggested that a letter be sent by the RCPG to Jacob requesting the supervisor’s advice, counsel and comments on how best to remedy the situation.
“Dianne Jacob has already said that we should put the money toward a more beneficial project for the community,” said member Vivian Osborn who, like Dorroh, is against proceeding with the project. “This particular project is simply not going to happen with the current design and money allowable.”
Ken Brennecke has spent 25 years developing a botanical garden near his Boundary Avenue property.
“I will have to change the entire infrastructure and redo all the water lines due to the proposed road banks,” he said. “We were not given any indication by the planner as to how our homes and property would be affected.”
The resident expressed concern that the designer had not considered possible traffic problems that could occur as parents drop off or pickup their children at Hanson Elementary School on Boundary Avenue.
“Can you imagine if there was a fire in the area,” said Brennecke. “How in the world could parents get their kids from the school, let alone have fire trucks try to get up the narrow street?”
RCPG member Matt Deskovick suggested that RCPG ask the county to come up with a different design for the project that would meet the county standards as well as be feasible to all the neighbors.
“We want the road,” said Deskovick. “If the county needs to get the money from somewhere else, then that is their job.”
The motion presented by Deskovick suggested the redesign and lowering of the aqueduct with the least amount of impact to the residents. Members of the RCPG passed the motion.
Many residents are not against the project going through but object to the proposed design. An angry and frustrated Myers sat outside the meeting room.
“When I asked neighbors what they thought of the project, they felt the road was not needed,” Myers said.
Myers and Brennecke have decided to seek petition signatures from Ramona residents protesting the continuation of the project.
“This entire idea has been ill planned and flawed from the start. At least Supervisor Jacob knows it,” said Myers.
“This project has put us in a very difficult position because it is our job to make recommendations for improvements,” said Radzik, who did not seek re-election and was presiding over her last RCPG meeting. “Whatever we decide to do, we are not going to come out ahead on this.”
Jacob’s office was not available for comment on this issue at the time the Sentinel went to press.
In other business:
• Members of the RCPG unanimously approved a six-month extension to the site plan waiver for a proposed chicken ranch on Old Julian Highway at Camino Vista. Ranch owner Kevin Demler requested the waiver extension after passage last month of Proposition 2, which sets new standards confining farm animals.
“Committees are meeting that will define the parameters of the proposition,” said Demler. “Their decisions will determine how we are to house the birds.”
The proposed 195-acre site will house up to 300,000 chicks to be used to replace the turnover at the family-owned Pine Hills Egg Ranch. Prop. 2 will not be enacted until 2015.
• Radzik requested that the planning group write a letter to the county Department of Planning and Land Use requesting to be informed of any decisions made regarding the proposed development of Oak Tree Ranch Mobile Home Park. The park’s internal section was destroyed during the Witch Fire in October 2007 and proponents are building a small subset community of 175 homes on the site, she said.
“I asked the developer how his proposal could have reached the point that it has without the RCPG having had one opportunity to review it,” said Radzik.
She has asked the group to keep track of the situation.
“The developer is moving forward under leaps and bounds with a huge project which we had no preview over at this point,” Radzik said.
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