Water board hesitant to allow property for evacuation use

By Karen Brainard

It’s the county versus Ramona Municipal Water District in the final stage of designating an emergency evacuation route, and the Ramona Community Planning Group appears to be caught in the middle.

An open house will be held for the public to view and drive on the county’s segment of the route on Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m., beginning on Montecito Way.

At its Oct. 23 meeting, the water board was asked by staff how it wants to proceed with the county’s draft agreement to use a portion of RMWD property for the evacuation route. Amid concerns of liability, indemnification, and environmental issues, the directors suggested possible negotiating points with the county. A land swap or removal of the county’s lien on RMWD’s San Vicente Wastewater Reclamation Plant site were two points mentioned.

Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva, who said he has been working to establish this route for four years, appealed to the board.

“What’s important is not to get lost in the weeds, if you will,” he said. “There’s no harm in establishing this evacuation route.”

Piva called the route a relief valve in case Main Street is clogged during an emergency.

RMWD Director Darrell Beck noted that the portion of the route proposed for the district’s Santa Maria sewer plant property is pasture and is used for sprayfields.

“This idea is well intended, but it doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.

The proposed route would start on Montecito Way just north of El Paso Street and take drivers on an existing dirt ranch road across county grasslands, then through a strip of RMWD property to reach Rangeland Road. From Rangeland, evacuees could take Highland Valley Road and continue to the 15 freeway or turn on Archie Moore Road to head to State Route 67.

Beck said the county abandoned two road plans on the north end that would have been much better suited for evacuation routes. Montecito Road could have connected with Rangeland Road, he said, but was vacated in 2009 because of the grasslands and the airport. A proposed SA 603, which was on the county circulation element, would have headed down into the San Pasqual Valley and come out near the Westfield shopping center mall, he said. That route disappeared from the map when the San Dieguito River Park was established, Beck said.

RMWD General Manager David Barnum noted that the board recognizes the route is a top priority for the community, but it has a fiduciary responsibility to utilize the district’s assets appropriately.

“Your role certainly is colored through the glasses of your position,” he told the board.

Director Joe Zenovic asked whether the district could be fined if people drive over the federally-protected Stephens’ kangaroo rats that have been found in that area.

Legal Counsel Brooke Miller with Best Best & Krieger said the county has waived the environmental regulations. Miller also said she approves of the county’s request to use a self-insurance option instead of third-party insurance for liability, and gave her recommendations on the indemnification clause in the draft agreement.

The board agreed to have the ad hoc committee of Beck and Bryan Wadlington, board president, review the draft agreement. Barnum said it will be brought back to the board for public review and discussion.

Related posts:

  1. County, planning group invite public to tour emergency evacuation route
  2. Utility poles stall emergency evacuation route
  3. Supervisors approve emergency evacuation route for Ramona
  4. Water board to consider buying desalinated water
  5. County close to finishing evacuation route

Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=18647

Posted by Maureen Robertson on Oct 27 2012. Filed under Government, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Comments for “Water board hesitant to allow property for evacuation use”

  1. Truth Hurts

    This proposed "evacuation" route solves nothing. Stuck in the grasslands during a wildfire… yea that's where I want to be…

    • Uh huh

      Exactly what I was thinking!!! Has anyone thought past getting people to 67? All the cars are going to meet up and go where? Another observation…when they evacuated the town…why did everyone leave…was your home in danger? Do you have a well? I live on Montecito Rd and did NOT leave. There was no fire danger and life continued as normal, although I did watch the Main St mess, which was ridiculous.

      • Cindy

        I concur with Uh Huh. We stayed in 2007 in the SDCE knowing the 2003 fires had gobbled up a lot of the combustables near us. In the dogmatic attempt to cover their asses the authorities recommend evacuation regardless of the respective circumstances resulting in a much more dangerous situation in the gridlock on San Vincente and all the outgoing arteries of Ramona.

  2. Joe Minervini

    I'd rather be stuck in the grasslands instead of on Main St. with, in some places, towering eucalyptus trees and buildings on both sides. Beck (RMWD) stated "……the county abandoned two road plans on the north end that would have been much better suited for evacuation routes. Montecito Road could have connected with Rangeland Road, but was vacated in 2009 because of the grasslands and the airport." I say we never should've agreed to vacate what Beck speaks of. There may have been a good reason, but I have yet to hear it. In reality, any relief Main St. can get during a wildfire evac. will be better than none. God forbid, if there were a wildfire tomorrow, I'll bet the new Sheriff in town will open the planned evac route. Rats or no rats.
    Joe Minervini, I'm in the Phone book

    • What a joke!

      Joe M – On main street fire and police can assist people and there are side streets that can be used to relieve traffic. On a 8 foot wide dirt path in the grasslands there are no lights, no cell phone coverage, no signs or emergeny lanes. Less than 10 years ago almost a dozen people, whole families, died in this community trying to evacuate on a better road than this.

      People need to go to RCPG and tell them RAMONA DESERVES BETTER THAN A DIRT PATH EVACUATION ROUTE FANTASY! RCPG needs to deliver not make up fantasies and expect Ramona to drink the koolaide

  3. Bart

    Joe,
    The reason the County vacated Montecito Road was "for security reasons" at the airport which is another way of saying they want a developer to expand the airport (Ramona Air Center), but the strings attached to FAA money are that they have to oppose development at the end of the runway. Guess what was located at the end of the runway . . . Montecito Road. Traffic to the development now has to come from the east.

  4. What a joke

    After the last fire the RCPG vacated a real road so that special interest could get rich from public property. The county promised Ramona an alternative road. What we got was this fantasy.

    RCPG and especially Jim Piva are a train wreck after four years of humilating failures and now they want us to believe that an existing eight foot wide dirt path going nowhere is an evacuation route? I think we elected RCPG to do better than an unimproved dirt path fantasy. Don't you? If you are a sheepeople that likes koolaide than this is the evacuation route for you!

    If you think RCPG was elected to make good decisions and fight for Ramona than go to the next RCPG meeting and tell them this is not okay!

    If we do nothing, we will continue to be short changed in this community……..

  5. Ruby

    Everyone I have talked to won't evacuate next time…last time was a MESS. There will be no one on the roads if there is a next time because 85% of Ramona won't evacuate! We learned our lesson the first time!

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