Planners mixed about county’s residential guidelines
By Karen Brainard
A presentation by county staff on proposed single-family residential design guidelines met mixed reaction from Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) members.
The planners had requested the presentation after reviewing the document at their March meeting and questioning the impact the guidelines would have on individual property owners.
Joe Farace, planning manager, and Marcus Lubich, a planner, both from DPLU’s land use and environment group, attended the April 5 RCPG meeting and said the Ramona planners aren’t the only ones with concerns about the guidelines. Farace said they took the comments from the RCPG and made some changes, including eliminating references to home remodels.
The document covers such items as planning and designing a compatible development, critical components of lot design, designing homes for the countryside, safe and interconnected roadways, minimizing grading and preserving ridgelines, trail and pathway connectivity, and designing multi-family homes for single-family neighborhoods.
Lubich said the idea for the guidelines came from General Plan Update hearings with regards to conservation subdivisions and how to assure they are designed in harmony with the community character of the surrounding area. County supervisors directed staff to create guidelines that could be used by all residential developers to create compatability with the existing area, he said.
“This is just a guide. This is just for applicants to use before they come in to speed up the process,” said Farace.
He added that the guidelines would not affect Ramona’s master trails plan and it would promote interconnected roads that are safe.
Ramona planning group member Matt Deskovick asked when the county decided more regulations were needed for private property owners. Farace responded that the guidelines are not regulations, and were taken from different documents.
Deskovick said the guidelines may not be regulations yet, adding, “There’s 10 pages of bureaucracy.”
Planning group member Angus Tobiason noted he has lived in Ramona for 75 years.
“This is horrible as far as I’m concerned for our community,” he said.
RCPG Vice Chair Chris Anderson said the Ramona Design Review Board, of which she is also a member, noted that the single-family residential design guidelines conflict with other design and building documents. The county has created a ministerial checklist for builders or individuals to use when applying for a building permit.
In addition, Anderson said, the Ramona Village Design Group is working on the village core plan that will include custom-tailored zoning and design standards. The terminology is the same in all the documents but the definitions are different, she said.
“They all have different conflicts that will negate something,” said Anderson.
As an example, Anderson asked what the definition is of a “ridgeline” — is it a hill or a mountain?
She added that the single-family residential guidelines are flawed because they conflict with property rights and she does not see how they help to maintain a rural community.
When planner Kevin Wallace asked if the guidelines would affect a person building his own home, Farace said, “It’s a tool. If they’d like to use it, they can.”
RCPG member Paul Stykel said some regulations are needed.
“Looking through it, it’s not that bad,” he said.
The guidelines, scheduled to go before the county supervisors for a vote on May 2, may be viewed at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/advance/POD_11-008_Draft_Residential_Design_Guidelines_January_2012.pdf.
In other business:
•The planning group voted to recommend the least expensive of the three Transportation Impact Fee options that will go before the county supervisors. County staff had presented its TIF program update in a March 22 meeting in Ramona that revealed the only road in Ramona that would use local TIF funds would be the “curvy” portion of Highland Valley Road. All three options for TIF show a drop in residential and commercial rates due to a reduction in the county’s mobility element. The motion passed with eight votes. Carl Hickman voted no; Anderson, Kristi Mansolf and Tobiason abstained; and Deskovick, Chad Anderson and Dennis Sprong were absent for the vote.
•The RCPG reviewed exploratory plans for Kahoots pet and feed store. Owners Michael Dittinger and Ethan Tunnell are considering building a retail store with corporate offices, and a hay barn at Main and Letton streets. Anderson provided the list of changes or suggestions from the Ramona Design Review Board, which saw the plans last month. Dittinger said plans do not call for removing any colonnade trees. Overall, planners were receptive to the country barn-like design of the buildings.
“It’s really exploratory at this point,” Dittinger told the Sentinel. “It’s something we’re considering.”
Kahoots is currently at 947 Main St.
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