The true cost of the proposed Ramona Street extension

By Ken Brennecke

   The real cost of the proposed Ramona Street extension to the Ramona community?

   There will be no 50- to 100-acre botanical garden for Ramona on the hill roughly bounded by Boundary Avenue to the north, Royal Vista on the west and south, Warnock Road on the south, and the Dowle Dairy to the east.

   That’s because by bisecting the hill with a road, resources needed to finish the development of the garden will become inaccessible.

   Our group is now in the 28th year of a 55-year project to put a sophisticated botanical garden on this site. It is being developed on the same horticultural principles that produced the Darian Garden in Vista, Calif.  Please access the five panoramic views of just 5 percent of this three-acre prototype at www.thedariangarden.com.

   Why this site? It’s the most optimum location within Ramona. The elevation is correct and air drainage makes it the warmest spot in the area. All other hills are littered with granite but this hill has very few granite outcroppings and one to three feet of topsoil most everywhere. Drainage is good. Water is available.

   Unfortunately, in 2005, the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) chose to connect the two segments of Ramona Street. Equally unfortunate was the fact that both the County Department of Public Works (DPW) and the RCPG created these plans without doing a good job of understanding the potential of the site for other purposes or the difficulties of the site itself. They didn’t talk to any of the affected residents, either. These difficulties include an aqueduct (expensive to move) and steeper slopes than anticipated (requiring massive earth moving and encroachment of adjoining properties).

   In their first plan, the DPW didn’t know there was a City of San Diego aqueduct and had to develop a second plan. (Each of these plans costs about $125,000 to produce.) The second plan was not adopted by the RCPG last year after the residents pointed out the obvious—that massive mounds of soil to support the elevation of the roadbed eight to 12 feet would have buried residents. That plan was to have cost $3.3 million (for a 1/3-mile stretch—your tax dollars).

   Instead of scrapping the idea, the RCPG asked the DPW for a third plan. This third plan was scheduled to be presented on June 29 at the RCPG Transportation and Trails Subcommittee and on July 1 at the RCPG meeting in the Ramona Community Center at 7 p.m.

   From what I have seen so far, this plan lowers the road bed 8 feet, moves the aqueduct and encroaches more rather than less some properties. The DPW doesn’t seem to be able to stay within their 30 foot easement.

   We don’t need this road connection. We haven’t needed it for 120 years.

It won’t relieve traffic to any great extent on Hanson Lane because it is more convenient to continue on San Vincente from San Diego Country Estates.  Also, if the proposed Southern Bypass is built (I hope you are vigorously fighting that terrible bit of work), Warnock Road will become a cul-de-sac at its eastern end and one would actually have to travel away from downtown prior to heading toward it (not very efficient—circulation is not enhanced).

   Currently both sides of the hill have at least two fire escape routes. Creating a third is overkill, especially considering the site damage that will be inflicted.

   Ramona Street is too far away from Hanson Elementary to be seriously considered as benefiting egress from the school, especially in an emergency.

   One RCPG argument for the road was that they have already spent so much money on these studies that they don’t want that money wasted. Well, I would rather spend $1/2 million probing rather than $3.2 million-plus to build a mistake. And that is just the construction costs. Acquisition and litigation will drive the cost up even more.

   Instead of Ramona being a pass through on the way to Julian (made more inefficient by this Southern Bypass plan—it will take longer), a botanical garden one mile from Main Street would be an attraction.

   Ramona Street would not become a racetrack, and the Boundary Avenue area would remain quiet. Also, botanical gardens don’t burn.

   When I see people feeding the ducks at the pond behind Stater Bros. Market, I feel the residents of this area deserve more than just meager enrichment. Let’s not go down the path that every other municipality has gone down except Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe, building roadways without thinking critically. Let’s get the most out of this truly unique site for the enhancement of our community.


Ken Brennecke is a Ramona resident.

   
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