Members of the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) like plans for a 21,000-square-foot library at 13th and Main streets but not a proposal to block left turns from 13th onto Main.
They also want all public agencies involved in the project to strive to save the eucalyptus trees that front the new library site.
The planners learned at their meeting on Sept. 3 that seven of the younger eucalyptus trees, planted about nine years ago, will be cut and later replaced. The 100-year-old eucalyptus will not be affected.
At their August meeting, when the planners accepted the mitigated negative declaration for the library project, they were told no eucalyptus trees would be removed.
A mitigated negative declaration identifies potentially significant effects, if any, a project will have on the environment and explains what will be done to reduce the impact. Among mitigation planned for the library project are creating a vernal pool elsewhere to replace the one that will be destroyed, restricting traffic to “right in/right out” at 13th and Main and charging a transportation impact fee for road improvements “for the addition of 975 additional trips to the community of Ramona.”
Dahvia Locke, project planner for the county, told the RCPG that original plans were not to impact the trees, but there was further discussion about grading, design and sidewalk.
“I apologize for any confusion there,” she said. “I know it’s important to the community.”
“We were asked by the design review board to create more of an entry plaza rather than just a simple sidewalk,” added Phillip Pape, principal architect for the firm designing the project. “That in itself killed at least two or three of the trees to do that, so that’s part of the solution that we came up with that was approved by the design review board to make a better pedestrian access to the library.”
The design review board’s intent was not to cut trees, RCPG Chair Chris Anderson said after the meeting. Anderson also serves as design review board secretary.
In their Sept. 3 approval of the site plan for the library, the planners recommended the county work with community groups to have the least impact on removal of trees.
Representatives of the planning group, Ramona Design Review Board, Village Design Committee, Ramona Tree Trust, county, library design-build team, and Ramona Intergenerational Community Center met at the county’s vacant lot at 13th and Main on Tuesday morning to discuss the trees.
Diane Conklin, Ramona Tree Trust president, described it as a very productive meeting and said the community groups will continue to work with Caltrans and the county. Official entities such as the planning group, design board and village design group made it clear “they want the trees to stay,” said Conklin.
Another meeting is scheduled for Monday, Anderson said.
The planning group on Sept. 3 also recommended there be no left-turn restriction off 13th onto Main, which is state Route 67.
“Knowing Ramonans the way we do, you could put anything up there, but people are going to go left off 13th Street onto Main Street no matter what,” said group member Jim Piva, chair of the RCPG Transportation and Trails Subcommittee.
If a raised median were put up to prevent the left turns onto Main, “they’ll be going right over it,” said Piva. “Big trucks drive that road all the time and they’re going to say, ‘Oh, can’t go left? What are they going to do?’ They’re going to go left.”
“I’m sure this came right out of the traffic study,” said group member Richard Tomlinson. “Caltrans is going to stick you with either a signal or a left-turn prohibition at 13th Street. To me, what’s the worst evil? They’re both horrible. I would hate to slow that library down...People end up waiting too long to make a left turn and they’re saying, if you’re going to be waiting too long, let’s stop people from doing it.”