Three Ramona residents utilized a recent county Planning Commission hearing on the county’s general plan update to express their opposition to the proposed southern bypass, which would direct Ramona traffic away from Main Street.
Joe Minervini, Reed Myers and Donna Myers explained their opposition to the bypass during public testimony for items besides those listed on the agenda. Although the commission could take no action on the items at that meeting, county staff promised to provide commission members a copy of the bypass proposal’s environmental impact report (EIR) for review.
Devon Muto, chief of the Advance Planning Division for the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU), said that road alignments in the general plan are general and not specific. “The general plan framework is very broad,” he said.
The proposed southern bypass is expected to utilize or parallel Dye Road and San Vicente Road to take traffic off Main Street, which is state Route 67 southwest of 10th Street and state Route 78 northeast of 10th Street.
“That will adversely affect many people in Ramona,” Minervini said.
Some of the concern focuses on the impacts of the new road itself, and Minervini said there would be an adverse economic impact to Main Street businesses from the reduction in through traffic.
“Nobody wants to route traffic away from businesses on Main Street,” he said. “This project will cost over $7 million and will not serve any substantial purpose. The new road will be more dangerous than the existing road.”
Reed Myers noted that the bypass on both ends would merge into a two-lane highway. “There’s no bang for your buck there,” he said.
Myers suggested operational improvements to Route 67 to alleviate the congestion problem.
“Fix the traffic lights,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with the roads except the people that drive them.”
Myers noted that improvements to the Dye Road traffic signal would be less expensive than constructing the bypass.
“You can do that for a couple of million dollars,” he said.
Donna Myers noted that the road would traverse an agricultural area.
“Is it a good use of land to pave over farms and ranches?” she asked. “We resist the assault on our rural environment.”
The specific alignment of a southern bypass is still to be determined.
“This project has a substantial way to go,” said DPLU Director Eric Gibson.
“If there’s an EIR in the project, they’re going to be researching alternate measures,” said Commissioner Peder Norby.
The March hearing also addressed floor-to-area ratio for mixed-use village core development, permissive versus restrictive language, alternative septic systems, the pipeline policy and tracking the implementation of the plan.
“There have been concerns that these standards are too high and result in incompatible community character,” Muto said.
Building height and parking standards are covered by the county’s Zoning Ordinance but are not addressed in the general plan update.
The commission voted 7-0 to add a paragraph to the draft general plan stating that the policies contained within the general plan were written to be a clear statement of policy but also to allow flexibility during implementation. The paragraph notes that policies cannot be applied independently but rather implementation must balance policies with one another.
“It provides us with clarity but also provides us with flexibility,” Muto said.
The commission did not change previous policies concerning pipelining or alternative septic systems. Public comment, discussion and recommendations on specific properties and roads took place at four commission hearings in November and December, although some of those issues were referred to DPLU staff and returned to the commission during a February meeting. The broader issues discussed Feb. 19 included conservation subdivisions, equity mechanisms and population projections. A commission recommendation on the entire package is anticipated after an April 16 hearing, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a hearing this fall.