When the Ramona Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee decided to promote the fact that Ramona is in the center of the county, the acronym HEART was developed.
“H” is for the Historical town and Hiking trails, “E” for its renowned Equine industry, “A” for a pronounced Antiques area and Arts activities, “R” for its Rural nature and “T” for Touring and Tasting of wines and cuisine.
The launch of the HEART campaign included a license plate frame, available at the chamber office for $5, with the byline and a heart on it. A community map showing the locations of HEART activities and facilities is being sponsored by local businesses, and is being printed.
Five thousand of these full-color maps are being distributed. They are available at the chamber, at each of the advertisers’ locations, and, if enough are left, they will be taken to timeshares and hotels in the region.
Carol Fowler, chair of the Economic Development Committee, encourages the group to keep running with the theme. To that end, committee ideas include adding the byline HEART of San Diego County to the chamber’s entry signs at Highway 78 and on San Vicente and Warnock, revamping the chamber Web site to include it, and including the HEART theme in the chamber’s monthly newsletter.
The next big step suggested for the campaign is a community calendar of events to be distributed county-wide. The plan is for a full-color, tri-fold brochure with community events calendared in a “generic” manner, to preclude having to revise and reprint each year. An example is, the month of October with an entry “Oktoberfest” with a contact Web link and phone number for the exact date, time and place. The Rotary/Kiwanis Music Festival, Artists Open Studio Tour, Quilt Show, Home & Garden Tour, Ramona Rodeo and other major equine and Ramona Trails Association events would be candidates for inclusion.
All local organizations are asked to submit their annual events by month for the calendar. Contact the chamber at 760-789-1311 for more information.
Another item on the Economic Development agenda was concern over the fees charged to businesses that want to locate in Ramona. In addition to the County of San Diego Transportation Impact Fee (TIF), the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) levies a fee based on a schedule of equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) by type of establishment. In addition to other service charges, a fee of $20,000 per EDU is charged to hook to the Santa Maria Wastewater Treatment Plant. Of that, $5,432 is a sewer connection fee that must be paid to build the project, and the rest can be handled as a lien on the property that would be paid in full or in annual payments, depending on the payment plan approved by the district, if the sewer plant is expanded.
Examples of typical EDU fees are, a single family residence is 1 EDU, while a restaurant is 2.6 EDUs per 1,000 square feet of floor space, not less than 2.6 EDUs. Fowler and the committee believe these fees are being levied to bolster the RMWD’s coffers for future development, which they worry may never happen because of the high costs to a potential business owner or landlord.
Two representatives from the committee said they will attend RMWD meetings on a regular basis in an effort to educate and inform the district board on how jobs are created and the benefits to the community of offering incentives rather than deterrents to small business.
In a related agenda item, the committee authorized Fowler to write a letter to Supervisor Jacob with a copy to the Director of the Department of Public Works, asking how much TIF money the county has received from Ramona and how it has been spent.
“If the community of Ramona knew what improvements were being made with the fees there might be slightly less resistance over paying them,” said Fowler.
Committee member Charlie Teichert expressed concern over the lack of sidewalks across Main Street, the speed at which traffic passes through, and the lack of signage and caution signs to drivers of pedestrian presence.
“I regularly see young mothers pushing strollers trying to cross Main Street, often being stranded in the center median because traffic won’t stop,” he said.
Teichert showed pictures of CalTrans-approved signs that he believes would help notify motorists as they travel Main Street. He plans to meet with CHP to trade ideas.
The chamber’s Economic Development Committee meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. For more information, call the chamber at 760-789-1311.