RMWD board splits on sending letter to county

By Karen Brainard

With one director absent, the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) board was evenly split, Sept. 13, on sending a letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors with concerns about a proposed emergency evacuation route that would cut through the north boundary of the district’s Santa Maria spray field property.

The split came after Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva presented a letter from District 2 County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. In that letter Jacob asked the water board to delay any action until discussions can take place between the county, RMWD, the planning group, San Diego Gas & Electric and other parties. Jacob offered to host a meeting in the near future to “resolve this matter in an acceptable manner for all involved.”

Piva read Jacob’s letter to the board in which she stated: “The recommendations your staff have provided your board appear to be separate, unrelated issues to securing this emergency access route even though they may be important to the RMWD.”

At the board’s direction, district staff had drafted a letter to the county supervisors with four identified “talking points” for using district property for an evacuation route:

•Existing San Diego Gas & Electric utility poles and guy wires located along the designated area

•Possible environmental mitigation requirements for the federally-protected Stephens’ kangaroo rat located on the property

•Potential loss of property for effluent disposal

•Maintenance of the route

The draft letter included the district’s review of the talking points and suggestions to offset potential problems.

Piva said he spoke with Jacob “and she is very eager to get this evacuation route established as soon as possible. It is fire season. It is a definite asset for our community,” he added, reminding the board of the difficulties for people to evacuate during the 2007 wildfire.

“We’ve come so close to getting this done,” Piva said.

Twice the board voted at the meeting—the first time to delay indefinitely sending the letter to the county. When that failed by a 2-2 vote, a motion was made to send the letter which also failed with a tie vote. Board President Bryan Wadlington and Director Kit Kesinger supported delaying the letter while Directors Joe Zenovic and Darrell Beck were in favor of sending the letter. Director Everett “Red” Hager was absent.

Beck noted it was an unusual situation.

“This letter is just an explanation, in my opinion,” said Beck. “We’re not asking for anything. We’re making a request that the county look at what they would have to do to use that piece of property. So I can’t see anything wrong with sending the letter.”

Kesinger agreed with Zenovic that RMWD’s draft letter was polite and professional but suggested letting the county continue to guide the issue of an emergency evacuation route.

Members of Ramona’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) presents the Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors with a photo of the team and message of appreciatioin for the district’s support. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

In other business:

•The board authorized the cooperative agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) to provide fire protection for fiscal year 2011-12.

•Members of Ramona’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) presented a photo of the team to the board and thanked the water district and fire department for their support. Shelly Devlin-Stefanyszyn, CERT’s public information officer, explained CERT’s involvement in the community and invited the board to take a look at the team’s equipment.

•The board adopted a resolution of appreciation for RMWD General Manager Ralph McIntosh who is retiring Oct. 6.

•Board members asked McIntosh to continue serving as the district’s representative to the San Diego County Water Authority Board after his retirement. McIntosh’s term on the CWA board ends in September 2012. Wadlington suggested the board re-visit the appointment in March 2012 after Assistant General Manager David Barnum has transitioned into the general manager position. McIntosh said he had offered to continue on the CWA board “just to kind of smooth the transition…between me leaving and David (Barnum) coming in.” As a CWA board member, he can receive a $150 monthly stipend although McIntosh said he has never taken it while working for RMWD. He has estimated spending 30-40 hours a month working as a CWA board member. On the 36-member board, the Ramona water district receives 1.6 percent of the vote, he said.

Related posts:

  1. District relays concerns with evacuation route
  2. RMWD joins emergency road talks
  3. County close to finishing evacuation route
  4. RMWD to review budget cuts Oct. 13
  5. RMWD reschedules rate increase hearing

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Sep 22 2011. Filed under Featured Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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