By Cindy Venolia
I would like the opportunity to respond to the recent article “Cedar Creek Falls trail and trail head get upgrades.” After 20 paragraphs, this article finally mentions that the neighborhood has been significantly impacted by this new trail.
I am a resident of Love Lane, and my fellow neighbors and I did attend a meeting on Monday, March 28, to voice our concerns. What was not stated in the Sentinel’s article is that we also voiced our concerns nearly three years ago when this trailhead project was in its development phase.
The current project, slated for completion this month, will provide a parking lot for 29 cars, the article states and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed. It also states that there have been 100 cars on a busy weekend, jamming the streets of Love Lane, Thornbush and Cathedral. This is to such a great and disruptive extent that we cannot park our own cars on the street, nor can people visiting us find a place to park.
Our landscaping has been trampled, our sprinkler heads broken, and trash left on our streets. Our once quiet neighborhood has been destroyed, our property values have declined, and the peaceful place we call home no longer exists.
At the onset of this project three years ago, the forest service was made aware that placing this trailhead at the end of a residential street was not a responsible plan. At the time, the trail was popular, but surely not to the extent that it now is. Carole Wylie, architect and member of the planning board, was instrumental in bringing the problems of this plan to San Diego Country Estates Association and the forest service years ago. She suggested that all other amenities in SDCE were off the major roads, none went through neighborhoods.
Following that logic, wouldn’t it make sense to put the staging area at the end of Ramona Oaks Road where the speed limit was nearly doubled that of the residential streets? Unfortunately, her advice was not heeded. Members of the neighborhood joined her in concern, but, looking back, I wish I would have been more active as there was no way to predict the popularity of this trail currently, nor could we have predicted the careless disregard these hikers and the forest service would have for the residents.
What is the forest service’s response? “There is going to be a capacity problem,” said Joan Friedlander in the article, and that they are looking into “other options” to expand parking. A classic example of poor planning, the forest service is NOW looking into this capacity problem? Doesn’t common sense dictate that they would have looked into the capacity problem BEFORE they built the inadequate parking?
Friedlander also states there will be an alcohol ban, which we applaud, but question. Who will be there to enforce this? The county sheriff’s office has a 20-minute travel time to get to this end of the Estates. How will they enforce an alcohol ban in a canyon area that is seldom, if ever, patrolled?
It is insulting to minimize the concerns of the residents. One cannot imagine that any thoughtful person would put a thoroughfare, with an excess of 100 cars traveling twice the speed limit, through a quiet residential neighborhood without giving any consideration to the negative impact it would have on the current residents.
But that is exactly what has happened. Now, the forest service wants to re-evaluate the plan? They were told years ago that the space designated was not large enough to accommodate the traffic, and that building the staging area for the trail at the end of Ramona Oaks Road would be a more responsible plan. So, here we are, years later and the forest service is finally recognizing that they made a planning mistake.
I hope that they will look into additional parking at the end of Ramona Oaks Road and bring some form of peace back to our neighborhood, and restore our confidence in the forest service, an organization funded by our taxes. My husband is now working with Dianne Jacobs office, the forest service, and SDCEA to ensure that it is done right. I thank him for taking the time to do this, and I thank Carol Wylie for trying three years ago. I only hope that this time someone listens.
Cindy Venolia is a Ramona resident.