Manes & Trails – A trail to nowhere: Easements and making connections

Last in a three-part series

Having the Ramona Trails and Pathways Master Plan in place and knowing that the basics of funding trails and pathways must be done, no plan can move forward without easements.

Easements are the cornerstone for connecting trails and pathways and can be purchased (which goes right back to funding), may be donated or built into the road plans by Department of Public Works (DPW) or development plans as Ramona grows and changes, which is the most frequent method for easements to be obtained.

Easements are needed in many areas because, quite frankly, we can’t just build a trail or pathway wherever we want. Easements are used to obtain the general alignment needed because communities are older than trails plans.

A trail may show on the map that looks like it runs straight across your property, right in the middle cutting your property in half. What happens in reality is that trail or pathway would be placed in the general area providing the best alignment. There are no hard, fast rules. They are more like guidelines, to coin a phrase.

Whether it’s an individual, company or agency, as the property owner where a trail or pathway easement is needed for connection within the plan, biological and geographical issues may also play a part in gaining easements and laying trails. Whether given or purchased in whole by deed or title, or given by permission, easements are an integral part of every trails plan.

I did promise to tell you a bit about the Santa Maria Creek Greenway and, as an example for your better understanding of and for easements, it is the perfect project to use. It’s a huge, major project of such importance to this community for so many reasons and it has to be done in small sections over time, partly because of funding and partly because of the numerous easements needed for trail and pathway sections along the route.

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he Santa Maria Creek Greenway trail in its entirety is nearly 9 miles, includes sections that are pathway rather than trail. Pathways are the connections necessary and are very typical due to the way the creek crosses Ramona. Roadways, bridges, different property owners and landholders as well as biological and geographical uniquenesses all include challenges to gaining easements along the way.

Aptly named, the trail runs right along (not in) our Santa Maria Creek from north Ramona at Black Canyon – in a mostly east/west direction – all the way out to the Ramona Grasslands on Highland Valley Road. Much of the property along the route is privately owned and some have granted permission for an easement so the trail can run along or past – not through – their property (thank you), but it hasn’t made sense to get most of those small sections done quite yet. Those that are in place may make it seem like there are trails to nowhere today, because of the nature of the necessary easements, but if you look at the plan as a whole you will realize that it is indeed a work in progress and each easement granted is another step closer to connecting the pieces of the puzzle.

The portions of property that are held by agencies and other larger entities such as the Ramona Water District (Ramona Community Park) and the County of San Diego (Ramona Grasslands and other public road easements) are already completed and being used by the public, as those have been larger, thus longer sections, and easements have been granted by those agencies. These are along the route of the Santa Maria Creek Greenway to give you a perspective of the planned route and what it might include.

Go to diannejacob.com/legislation/landuse/leg060228/ for some detailed background and of course you can view the plan map and text for Ramona (see below) for more information.

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know many are concerned regarding easements and trails or pathways near our properties, and the question is often asked, “Well what if someone is riding or walking and gets hurt?”

ORDINANCE NO. 9702  (N.S.) AN ORDINANCE ADDING SECTIONS 812.201 THROUGH 812.214 TO THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY CODE RELATING TO USE OF TRAILS and San Diego County Code of Regulatory Ordinances Title 8 Zoning and Land use Regulations Division 12.  Trail Defense and indemnification can explain it to you in detail if you are interested in reading it, but what it comes down to is that property owners may dedicate trail or pathway easements and be indemnified yet retain access to the property.

It’s a win/win in my book. A trail or pathway is built, property owners are protected and Ramona gains steps toward a completed Trails and Pathways Plan.

For the map of trails in use and planned for the future, such as the Santa Maria Creek Greenway, go to — it is a large document and can take time to load — co.san-diego.ca.us/reusable_components/images/parks/doc/CTMP/DPR_Easements_and_Regional_Trails/Ramona.pdf. And to view the text for the Ramona Community Trails and Pathways Master Plan, visit co.san-diego.ca.us/parks/.

The Trails and Pathways Plan takes planning, funding, easements, and cooperation to implement. Ramona’s plan creates nonmotorized means of transportation, safer routes to schools for our kids who walk or ride a bike or horse, recreational opportunities, a healthier population, and less pollution.

It’s up to all of us to work together to take the plan from paper to dirt. No one can do it alone, but I’ll be out here working to make it happen, so join me sometime! I look forward to meeting you.

Related posts:

  1. Manes & Trails: Funding connections for a Trail to Nowhere
  2. Manes & Trails: A Trail to Nowhere
  3. Manes and Trails: Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail
  4. Manes & Trails: Ramona Community Park — by foot or by hoof
  5. Manes and Trails: Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Jun 7 2012. Filed under Columnists, Columns, Manes and Trails. 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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