Ramonans are seeing an increase of graffiti in town, and they’re concerned, Arvie Degenfelder said during the Ramona Revitalization Steering Committee meeting chaired by San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob on Friday.
“It’s a huge concern to the community, because that’s just kind of a forerunner, and it also costs merchants and people in town money to remove the graffiti, so it isn’t something we can just say, ‘oh, well’,” said Degenfelder, Health and Human Services Subcommittee chair. “I think it’s something we need to deal with, and perhaps our law enforcement folks can speak to that.”
The Sheriff’s Department is aware of the problem, and deputies are working with business owners and residents to get the graffiti removed immediately, said Sgt. Mike Strong with the sheriff’s Ramona Substation.
“Blight breeds blight; vandalism breeds vandalism,” he said. “We want to get the graffiti documented and photographed as soon as possible and then have either the homeowner or the business get this off the business (or residence) as soon as possible.”
Painting over graffiti cost a nonprofit Ramona youth sports league $500 in August and $200 in September, Dawn Perfect said, asking what the best way to deal with it is.
“It is a crime,” said Strong. “Please report it to us.”
The department is investigating what Strong called a rift between some troublemakers in Ramona and a gang in Escondido. Some Ramonans say they are in a gang, but, because they are not part of a documented gang, they are serving sentences such as six months for crimes such as having a loaded assault-type rifle, said Strong.
“If they were a documented gang member, they would be serving a more serious sentence,” he said.
Karen Carlson, a Ramona Trails Association member, said her husband was talking about getting some free paint so he and a group of men can “help businessowners and nonprofits, because it does cost a lot of money.”
Jacob called the idea an excellent one and suggested Carlson and Strong talk about it after the meeting. The group could be called “graffiti busters,” she commented.
Jacob conducts revitalization committee meetings twice a year in Ramona. Subcommittees tackle issues such infrastructure and transportation, economic development, public safety and law enforcement, health and human services, and parks and recreation/library.
The agenda includes updates from each subcommittee chair, related reports from Jacob and county staff, and public comments and questions.
Topics at the Oct. 24 afternoon session in Ramona Community Center ranged from San Diego Gas & Electric’s 150-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission project to the need for a person to chair the Public Safety and Law Enforcement Subcommittee.
Celeste Young from North Inland Community Prevention Program gave a report about strategies to combat underage drinking, and Sgt. Amado Macias with the California Highway Patrol responded to questions about the Route 67 crash that left two people dead Friday morning.
“I noticed you used the word ‘collision’,” Jacob said to Macias. “No such thing as an accident, is that they way you look at it?”
As much as “we all try to make the road safer, in terms of Caltrans or if it’s the county, and law enforcement does their best to enforce the laws, it’s really the person behind the wheel that causes the collisions,” said Jacob.
Channel 8 television is doing a story about Route 67 and the need for upgrades, Jacob said, adding that, while the road probably didn’t cause Friday’s accident, “it gave me the opportunity to emphasize that this is a priority, improvements to 67 ... the full widening.”
Ramona Chamber of Commerce President Carol Fowler, who has three children who drive, said “every time I hear an accident, and I know every parent in Ramona feels the same way, we just get on the phone and start calling all our kids.”
CHP has been studying when the majority of collisions occur in Ramona and, starting in January, will “have more resources in the later part of the afternoon, the evening commute,” said Macias.
“In addition, we’re going to be staffing a full-time car on the graveyard shift at night to address some of the DUI issues at night,” he said.
Regarding SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink proposal, Jacob said, “I think that is key to our argument, that the line is not needed, that we can produce our electricity demands in-(basin) generation, and they (state Public Utilities Commission report) point out ... two ways to do it.”
On another SDG&E issue, Jacob said she told utility representatives that, before the company enacts its power shutoff plan in high fire-risk areas, it should do four things:
• A better job trimming trees and vegetation around their poles and lines;
• Widen spacing between the wires and string thicker wires that would not arc;
• Replace wood poles with steel poles.
• Underground lines in high wind, high fire-risk areas.
Dawn Perfect, as chair of the Infrastructure and Transportation Subcommittee, said the community wants 13th/Walnut streets paved between Main and Olive streets. With plans for a new library and health center in the area, “it’s becoming increasingly clear that we do need to do some improvements to 13th Street,” she said.
Preliminary engineering studies for that are being done, said Ed Zielanski, project manager with the county Department of Public Works (DPW), and they are coordinating with the library committee.
“It’s likely that some improvements, at least on part of the road, would happen as part of the library process,” he said.
Zielanski teamed up with Perfect during part of her lengthy report to provide updates from DPW’s perspective. He said that, at the beginning of the new year, he will meet with the planning group and its transportation subcommittee to identify a new list of road improvement projects, “considering we’re working pretty hard on at least six of those” now on the top 10 list.
A new group in town, ARRIBA (Association of Ramona Residents Interested in Bringing Activities) Ramona, is talking about partnering with an organization such as Palomar YMCA, said Degenfelder. The impetus was providing youth activities
“Y activities cover all ages from very young people to very definitely senior citizens, so that would be a very positive thing,” she said. “ ... Some of us know there’s a ton of stuff our kids could do, but mostly the kids can’t recognize it. We need to help them recognize it, that there are good things.”
Economic development, finding a nonprofit organization to provide bus service for the disabled and elderly, school district property as a mitigation bank for vernal pool and fairy shrimp mitigation, additional fire attack equipment, San Vicente Road improvements, south bypass components, the need for a community meeting about Collier Park projects, Ramona Grasslands purchases as they relate to the Santa Maria Creek Greenway Park/Preserve, new library progress, Ramona Community Park improvements, and Little Padres Park at the Ramona Pony Baseball Field were among other topics discussed.