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Stories written by will.o.harris

Transportation Summit panelists stress ‘work together’

 The Transportation Summit hosted by Ramona Community Planning Group
(RCPG) on June 9 featured a “who’s who” panel of those involved with
road projects and emphasized the need for Ramonans and the various
agencies to work together.
   “We have to work together with the other people, these other
agencies that are up here, and stay informed,” said RCPG member Bob
Hailey, who proposed the idea of the transportation summit.
   About 45 to 50 residents, including a Boy Scout troop,  attended the
summit, held in the Charles R. Nunn Performing Arts Center at Olive
Peirce Middle School. Hailey and RCPG member Jim Piva, who moderated
the summit, expressed disappointment that more residents did not
attend, but they acknowledged it was a first step toward engaging the

Planning group supports Cumming Ranch trails

   A trail system for the proposed Cumming Ranch residential
development on Highland Valley Road, about a quarter mile north of
state Route 67, has the approval of the Ramona Community Planning Group
   Cumming Ranch will be designed for 125 single family homes on lots
ranging from one acre to 3.1 acres, said Gene Driscoll, project owner. 

   The property consists of 682.6 acres. Driscoll said 32 percent of
the property, or 215.4 acres, will be used for residential; 1 percent,
or 9.8 acres, will be used for a right of way within Highland Valley
Road and Route 67, and the remaining 457.4 acres is part of the Ramona
Grasslands Preserve. 
   Driscoll presented plans for a 3.4-mile system of trails and
pathways at the planning group meeting on June 3.  He explained that
the pathways will run alongside the road or Route 67 and will be
maintained by the county’s Department of Public Works (DPW) while the
trails within the development will be maintained by the county’s
Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
   “We basically start at the intersection of 67,” he said. “It goes
north through our property for a short interval, runs through Hardy
Ranch, back into our property and then into the staging area on Airport

Water district expects to generate savings with solar

   In a special meeting June 1, Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD)
directors agreed to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a
private company that will construct two solar projects at  the RMWD
sewer  plants which will cost the district nothing but could provide
savings of $2.2 million in energy costs over 20 years.
   “I think it’s pretty win-win for us,” said RMWD Board President Jim
Robinson, who served on the Solar Ad Hoc Committee with Director George
Boggs. “We’re going to save a considerable amount of money over the
20-year life. And it’s clear to us we don’t have to incur any
(additional) payroll, any more employees, no more insurance costs,
anything. I think it’s a pretty good deal for us.”

Water district takes heat for portable generator

   As a precautionary measure for the upcoming fire season and possible
power outages, Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) figured a
portable back-up generator could be the solution to assure water is
available for fire protection at one of the district’s pumping 
stations — until the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District
(APCD) gave notice.
   The pumping station at state Route 67 and Hedy Lane serves 46 to 50
homes. RMWD General Manager Ralph McIntosh said that area has not
burned since 1967. 
Due to San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) proposed shut-off
plan during weather-related fire potential times, and due to numerous
power outages annually at the Hedy Lane station, RMWD staff thought it
would be beneficial to have a portable generator there.
   McIntosh explained that most generators that size are diesel-fueled
and therefore regulated by the APCD. The county requirements are based
on state regulations in the Portable Equipment Registration Program
   Although RMWD staff members believed they were following APCD
requirements, the agency notified the district that the generator had
to be removed or it would be in violation of being at a location for
more than 12 consecutive months. That led to McIntosh writing the APCD
about the conflicting use of the terms “consecutive” 12-month period
and “cumulative” 12-month period.

Support for historic trail takes property rights detour

   John and Arvie Degenfelder’s efforts to garner support for
historical designation of Old Survey 97 headed down a different route
when presented to the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG).
   Armed with photos and maps of  Old Survey  97, the Degenfelders were
ready to relate nearly 200 years worth of historical references to the
notable trail, but were sidetracked when planning group members
questioned the impact to property rights.
   The Degenfelders are hoping the San Diego Historic Site Board will
nominate the former Native American trail and stagecoach route as a
historical site. They are meeting with local groups to receive letters
of support and have obtained endorsements from the Citizens Advisory
Committee of the San Dieguito River Park and the Joint Powers Authority
for the San Dieguito River Park.  Seeking the support of the RCPG, the
Degenfelders gave their presentation at the group’s meeting in May.

Residents protest proposed zone changes

   A group of residents, upset about notices they received from the
county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) regarding zoning
changes that would increase density in their neighborhood, received
full support from the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) on June 4.
   DPLU has been reviewing zoning for the General Plan Update.  RCPG
Chair Chris Anderson said Ramona, one of 26 unincorporated areas in the
plan, has its own guidelines and community plan. The Ramona plan is
scheduled to be presented at the San Diego County Planning Commission
meeting July 9.
   The residents at the RCPG meeting represented a section of Ramona’s
village core south of Main Street and between Pala and Rotanzi streets.
   Linda Berman, who lives on Raymond Avenue, said she received notice
from the county a couple of weeks ago stating intentions to rezone the
area from Raymond Avenue  and  the south side of Kelly Avenue and from
Hunter Street to Ramona Street  from 3Res to VR-15 (village
residential). This would increase density from two units per acre to 15
units per acre.
   “Shame on whoever suggested this area,” said Berman. “We cannot
incorporate higher density dwellings anywhere in this area due to the
flooding problems we have every winter.” 

Water district OKs 12% rate hikes

   Five customers addressed the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD)
Board  at the May 25 public hearing with a combination of protests on
rate hikes, comments of appreciation and offers to volunteer in some
way to help keep rates down. 
   The board passed the 2010-11 budget with rate increases of 12
percent for water, 12 percent for Santa Maria sewer and 10 percent for
San Vicente sewer.
   The new rates took effect June 1, a month before the start of the
new fiscal year. By spreading the new rates over 13 months versus 12
months, the hikes are not as high as they would have been, according to
the district.
   About 15 people attended the public hearing, which was held before
RMWD Chief Financial Officer David Barnum gave his final budget
   Residents Tony Bowers and Karen Irwin questioned how the board could
be considering raising rates while the country is in a recession.  They
also asked why they have to pay more for water when they have cut back
on usage.

Planners host Transportation Summit

   Anyone with questions about past, present and-or future road
projects for Ramona will want to attend the Transportation Summit
hosted by the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) in the Charles R.
Nunn Performing Arts Center at Olive Peirce Middle School, 1521 Hanson
Lane, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9.
   Open to the public, the summit will feature representatives from
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California Highway
Patrol (CHP), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and  San
Diego County Department of Public Works (DPW). 
   County Supervisor Dianne Jacob will also participate.

Dye/67 change made to ease peak traffic flow

 Those who drive state Route 67 eastbound into Ramona late on a weekday
afternoon may have noticed less traffic congestion between Archie Moore
Road and the Dye/Highland Valley roads intersection, thanks to a simple
matter of timing.
   Ramona Community Planning Group member Jim Piva, chairman of the
planning group’s Trails and Transportation Subcommittee and a member of
the Highway 67 Subcommittee, said improvements made to the timing of
the traffic lights have resulted in increasing the flow of traffic and
decreasing the waiting times. Piva said some residents have called him
to say the change has helped to keep traffic moving, but the
subcommittee would like to know if other drivers agree the traffic
congestion has eased.

Board considers 12% water, sewer hikes

   The Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) Board will hold a public
hearing at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, for any residents who want to
comment about proposed water and sewer rate hikes for the district’s
fiscal year 2010-11 budget.
   The board has proposed the following rate increases: 12 percent for
water customers, 12 percent for Santa Maria sewer service customers and
10 percent for San Vicente sewer service customers. Those who want to
comment about the proposed increases will need to present a speaker’s
slip with their name, address and the rate they are protesting or
supporting before the start of the hearing.