Author Archive
Stories written by will.o.harris

‘Dark sky policy’ affects lights, signs

 High school civics students learned about the county’s “dark sky
policy” while attending the Ramona Design Review Board’s meeting  as a
class assignment.
   The dark sky policy was brought up twice during the meeting while
board members reviewed a site plan for the Ramona Seventh Day Adventist
Church and discussed the Kentucky Fried Chicken illuminated bucket pole
   The church plans, which  called for replacing an old manufactured
building with a new manufactured building on the church property,
included outside lights. Board members said the lights had to be
down-shielded due to the dark sky policy, which member Rob Lewallen
explained was because of the Palomar Observatory.
   Outdoor lights that shine up can impact astronomical research at the
observatory. Lewallen said the policy pertains to businesses and

Economy stymies fire victims

 Bonnie Fry may not be running the Ramona Fire Recovery Center anymore,
but she still maintains a close presence to the many people she
assisted after the 2007 wildfires.
   Although the fire recovery center closed in December 2009, for many
of those who lost their homes, life is not yet back to normal.
   Fry said the majority of Ramonans who lost their homes have still
not rebuilt. Of the approximately 486 homes that were destroyed in
Ramona, Fry estimates that  50 to 70 have been rebuilt. 

Survey road eyed for special designation

 Ramonans John and Arvie Degenfelder will seek support for historical
site recognition for Old Survey Road 97 during the Ramona Community
Planning Group meeting on May 6.
   Old Survey 97, a former Native American trail and stagecoach route,
starts on what was known as the Gildred Ranch. Arvie Degenfelder said
she and her husband were unable to access that part of the trail
because it was on private property until the San Diego County
Department of Parks and Recreation bought the Gildred Ranch along with
other ranches to create the Ramona Grasslands.

RMWD to boost water, sewer fees

   Ramona Municipal Water District Board’s decision to propose raising
water rates 12 percent, San Vicente sewer rates 10 percent, and Santa
Maria sewer rates 12 percent was not without disagreement and debate
among board directors.
   Presented with three options for increased water and sewer rates,
district directors determined which  they want built into the fiscal
year 2010-11 budget. 
   Rate increases will not be final until the budget is adopted. A
public hearing to give customers an opportunity to voice their opinions
is scheduled for May 25.
   With issues of establishing funding for deferred maintenance and
improvements to facilities, the directors during their budget workshop
last Tuesday reviewed charts prepared by David Barnum, the district’s
chief financial officer, showing rate increases ranging from 8 to 12

Supervisor warns committee of less funding

 “It’s going to be a difficult year,” District 2 County Supervisor
Dianne Jacob told those attending the Ramona Community Revitalization
Steering Committee on Friday.
   “I’m worried about excessive federal spending and the state of
California being upside down again with their budget. If those two
things can’t get in line, the money has to come from somewhere,” Jacob
said, adding that it will come from tax-paying citizens and local
government “unless we force a change at those two levels of government.”

Meeting targets proposed southern bypass

   Ramona Community Planning Group needs to take the southern bypass
off the top 10 road improvement list, Joe Minervini told those
attending the Save Ramona’s Environment and Businesses meeting in
Ramona Town Hall. 
   “Let’s take it off the books,” he said.
   Almost a dozen people showed up for the meeting on April 11.
Minervini, who believes the proposed bypass would hurt downtown
businesses, said he had hoped more business owners would attend but
understood it was a Sunday afternoon and they must tend to their cash

Water board opposes package treatment plant for Montecito Ranch

   Voicing their disapproval of the proposed package sewer treatment
plant for Montecito Ranch, Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD)
directors agreed at their April 13 meeting to write letters to each
county supervisor, stating their opposition to the proposed plant.
   The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will be considering the
major use permit (MUP) required for the proposed package treatment
   The 417-unit Montecito Ranch development was approved by the San
Diego County Planning Commission at its April 2 meeting.  RMWD Engineer
Tim Stanton, who attended that meeting, said the commission approved
the MUP for the plant despite recommendations to deny the permit by the
county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) and by the director
of the county Public Works Department.  
   Staffs from both departments have recommended that Montecito Ranch
connect to the RMWD’s Santa Maria Sewer Service Area (SMSSA), which
would need to be expanded.
   Stanton noted that at one point the water district had been in talks
with Montecito Ranch LLC to expand the SMSSA to accommodate the
proposed development.
RMWD’s legislative code states that the district discourages package
treatment plants. Director George Boggs said he wrote similar language
15 years ago for the Ramona Community Plan.

RMWD OKs fee to reserve solar rebate

   After many questions, much discussion and some hesitation, Ramona
Municipal Water District directors approved paying $25,000 to reserve a
solar rebate from the California Center for Sustainable Energy. The fee
is refundable after the solar project is completed.  
   “Unfortunately, in my view, this is the way our culture and the
world are going,” Director George Boggs said of the proposed solar
power system. “I have a lot of reservations about the economics of
   RMWD Legal Counsel Sophie Akins had asked board members to consider
reserving the rebate, known as the California Solar Initiative (CSI),
because the rebate amounts are decreasing. 

Village group questions next steps with zoning, discusses skate park

   Members of the Ramona Village Design Group voiced concerns at their
April 8 meeting about how the Ramona-specific custom-tailored zoning,
developed with Consultant Howard Blackson, will be addressed by the
county planners who are working on the General Plan Update and zoning
   Greg Roberson said they needed a better handle on what needs to be
done in regards to work that the design group and Blackson have
accomplished and does not want to see the efforts wasted. He added that
to move forward with the custom-tailored zoning, also known as the
Ramona smart code, they would probably have to get approval from the
Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG).
   Roberson said Devon Muto with advance planning at the county’s
Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) would probably be the key as
to how the smart code will be incorporated into county plans.

Musician pitches entertainment ideas

   Celia Lawley wants to create unique entertainment options for
communities and is interested in partnering with a local organization
to stage a monthly Barn Dance in Ramona.
   In a presentation to the Ramona Village Design Group, April 8,
Lawley explained to members how she has set up a nonprofit
organization, Enthrall Inc., dedicated to creating and presenting
educational and entertaining programs, field trips and tours through a
combination of music, history, sustainable living and environmental
   “I’m a prototype creator,” said Lawley, who serves as executive director of Enthrall.