Project Ramona talks target Main Street
By Karen Brainard
Ramona’s colonnade of eucalyptus trees caught the attention of the team of professional planners in town for the
weeklong Project Ramona workshop.
“These trees were amazing to me and I’d do everything to preserve them,” said Nathan Norris at the workshop’s opening public presentation Monday evening.
Norris works with project implementation with PlaceMakers, a firm that specializes in developing form-based codes for communities, aimed at creating character and a sense of place, versus use-based conventional zoning.
Goeff Dyer, who deals with master planning for PlaceMakers, called Ramona’s Old Town area a “gorgeous component of Main Street.”
According to San Diego County staff, such “designer” building codes will focus on reinvigorating Ramona’s Main Street by encouraging pedestrian-friendly development form-fitted to Ramona’s rural character. PlaceMakers is working with county staff and is being funded with a $135,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and with $15,000 Neighborhood Reinvestment funds recommended by Supervisor Dianne Jacob. Ramona is in Jacob’s District 2.
PlaceMakers’ work is intended to complete the efforts by the Ramona Village Design Group to create design standards
for development in the community. A similar workshop was held with PlaceMakers two years ago.
Speaking to a small group of residents and village design group members on Monday evening, Project Manager Howard Blackson of PlaceMakers gave an overview of how the form-based codes will benefit Ramona. He also explained how they will coordinate with infrastructure after Jerry and Linda Berman talked of the flooding problems they experience on their properties in the Raymond and Kelly Avenue area, and how it became worse after CVS pharmacy was built.
The town project study area is divided into three sections: the Colonnade, from Etcheverry to Pala Street; the Paseo, from Pala to 10th Street; and Old Town, from 10th to Third Street. During a tour of the Colonnade area, Blackson said the team thought the best building was Elston Hay and Grain with its Western façade.
“We love it,” said Blackson. “You know where to park. You know where the door is. It’s of this place, the way it sits and acts and behaves.”
Blackson sought ideas from residents of what they would like to see in town.
“Ramona should be a destination,” he said. “You have so many people driving by.”
Norris said humans bore easily and that is part of Ramona’s problem. Julian’s slow traffic through town, narrow streets and shade contribute to keeping humans busy on just two blocks of its downtown, he said.
Norris was critical of Caltrans, saying the state agency has not done any favors for Ramona with its road projects, and the town needs to have more control over that. Ramona’s Main Street is a state highway.
Some other negatives in the community that Norris mentioned were lack of connectivity behind Main Street and high fees that impact development, including the Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) and sewer mitigation fees. The environmentally-protected vernal pools, found throughout Ramona, were also discussed as a problem for development.
“Nothing’s going to happen in this town until there’s a solution for vernal pools,” said Tom Fincher with San Diego County’s General Services.
Blackson said the fees and vernal pools are going to be addressed.
The project team will continue to meet each day this week at the Century 21 building, 2102 Main St. On Tuesday morning they were scheduled to meet with local land owners and neighborhood groups. From 2:30 to 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, a stakeholder meeting with county staff, police and fire, infrastructure and utilities’ representatives was scheduled.
Residents saw a pin-up of the work in progress on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. A closing presentation to the public will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday in Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane.
- County, Ramonans meet to reshape Ramona’s Main Street
- Village design group sets workshop dates
- Village design group’s public workshops begin Aug. 8
- Joint meeting to target town look
- Village design group focuses on medians
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