Without the assistance of an intern to help apply the codes and work that has been developed in the Phase II design, the Ramona Village Design Group focused their Dec. 10 meeting on landscaping center medians in Old Town.
The design group worked with Consultant Howard Blackson of Placemakers this summer and fall to develop custom-tailored zoning known as form-based codes for designing Ramona’s downtown. Blackson was hired with a federal $50,000 Community Development Block Grant administered by the county. However, now that the $50,000 has been spent, the design group needs additional funding from the county to complete the work.
In the meantime, Blackson suggested that an intern work with the design group until more funding could be obtained.
“We don’t have an intern yet, as far as I know,” Chairman Rob Lewallen told the group.
Lewallen said he thinks the group needs the intern to get moving on the work that’s been accomplished.
Member Greg Roberson said he wants to make sure that Blackson’s work doesn’t “fall to dust.”
“It’s incumbent on us to follow through,” said Roberson.
With hopes that an intern could help organize the work with the form-based codes, Vice Chair Carol Fowler said, “We don’t understand how to apply that code.”
Fowler said the members need to talk to San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob to get the additional funding for the design project. With the extra money, the design group could continue to work with Blackson, other consultants or county staff.
Roberson suggested it would help if Blackson could list the next steps they could take until they received the additional funding.
“We know from experience this will keep moving,” Roberson said. “It has progressed.”
Since working with Blackson, the design group has conferred with the Ramona Community Planning Group to designate a possible site for a big box store. Now the focus is on center medians.
With Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) planning to install center medians in Old Town, the design group would like to see landscaping added to the medians.
Fowler said landscaping could make a median shady “so it will be pedestrian-friendly.”
According to Roberson, there is a possibility of a grant for such landscaping. However, questions remained whether Caltrans would allow landscaping, and who would be responsible for maintaining the plants and paying for the water.
Members suggested contacting the Ramona Tree Trust and the Ramona Parks and Recreation Association to see if either of those groups would be interested in maintaining such landscaping. They also talked about inviting representatives from Caltrans to the next village design meeting, Jan. 14, to discuss the landscaping issue.
“I think we’ve said we didn’t want medians in that part of town,” said member Torry Brean, “but if we’re going to get them, we sure want them to look nice.”