By KAREN BRAINARD
A fire service availability letter for the proposed Ramona Air Center has the approval of the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD). If the project goes through as proposed, a new fire station may be built on the west end of town.
Karl Higgins, a partner of the Ramona Air Center, told district directors in May that he needed the letter so he could circulate the proposed development’s environmental impact report (EIR). At that time, he requested that the water board approve a draft fire service availability letter but the directors wanted more information regarding the fire service impact of the project. Fire Marshal Saul Villagomez provided the information at the board’s June 28 meeting.
“This proposed project will impact the district for fire and emergency services,” Villagomez told the board.
The air center, to be located north of the Ramona Airport on Montecito Road, would cover approximately 50 acres and consist of private and public aircraft hangars and tie-downs for an additional 259 aircraft. The project would also include a hangar owner association clubhouse, an aviation food service building and office units.
According to the fire service availability letter, the project is in the designated Wildland Urban Interface area and in the State Responsibility Area. The fire severity for most of that area is mapped by CalFire as high fire severity.
Higgins has said that the air center will either form a financing mechanism, known as a community facilities district (CFD), or join an existing CFD, or pay developer fees to the water district to fund the air center’s fair share of the additional impact on fire services.
Villagomez stated in the fire service letter that for the fire department to achieve shorter response times to the project, a new fire station would likely be required at or near the project site.
“For us to be effective...we need to be there touching a person in four to six minutes,” said CalFire Battalion Chief Robert McLaughlin.
The letter stated that a station with fire crew quarters would consist of approximately 7,788 square feet and is anticipated to cost $3.5 million. Additional costs would include another fire engine and other equipment, and a minimum of three people staffing the station.
The letter was to be sent to the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use.
Higgins said the air center is committed to ensuring the community is safe.
In other business at the RMWD Board meeting:
•Board President Bryan Wadlington appointed directors Red Hager and Kit Kesinger to a new ad hoc committee to work with the San Diego Country Estates Association. The association wants to seek Proposition 84 grant funding to expand and upgrade its storage and distribution system to receive more recycled water from the San Vicente Water Reclamation Plant.
•The board approved having delinquent water charges placed on the San Diego County secured property tax rolls. The vote was 4-0. Kesinger was absent for the vote.
The board also adopted a resolution to place delinquent weed abatement charges on the county secured tax rolls. Director Joe Zenovic voted against the measure.