By Karen Brainard
Residents living by the Cedar Creek Falls trailhead at the end of Thornbush Road received full support from the Ramona Community Planning Group after giving testimony to what they said are dangerous and disrespectful behaviors by many of the hikers.
“Somebody’s going to get killed before someone solves the problem,” said Carole Wylie, who lives on Thornbush and is a member of the Ramona Design Review Board.
Drivers pass by the homes going 45 to 50 mph around blind curves, Wylie said at the May 5 planning group meeting.
“It’s a zoo. It’s a complete zoo out there,” is how Dan Fry described the crowds of hikers descending on his neighborhood.
“The cars fill our streets, taking up every available parking area, blocking our driveways and the walkways to our front doors, hikers trample our landscape and litter in our yards,” Wylie and her husband wrote in a prepared statement.
Other residents complained of car break-ins, stolen property, broken sprinkler heads, and young adults drinking and partying.
“The county needs to do something to get our neighborhood back,” said Amanda Sommers.
The U.S. Forest Service, along with the San Diego River Foundation, made the six-mile hike to Cedar Creek Falls more accessible, which has attracted hundreds of people on the weekends, said the residents. A parking lot at the trailhead can only hold 29 cars, they said.
When the forest service notified them of trailhead improvements, they expressed concerns that they believe were not addressed, the residents said. Although they would prefer to see the trailhead moved, the neighbors acknowledged that is not realistic. They asked the planning group to support a parking ban on their residential streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends and to put up signage on Ramona Oaks Road indicating that road is the primary trailhead parking area. The planning group approved this unanimously in a motion that will be sent to the county.
Joan Friedlander, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service’s Palomar Ranger District, told the Sentinel the next day that she is very committed to solving the parking dilemma.
“I really do understand the frustrations they have,” said Friedlander.
“I think it’s fair to say a lot of accusations have been thrown out. I think that we’ve accommodated a lot of concerns,” she said, adding that they will continue to do so but it may take time.
According to Friedlander, the U.S. Forest Service has a verbal agreement with the Ramona Trails Association and the San Diego County Sheriff’s mounted patrol to help manage and patrol the area. Details are being ironed out, she said.
Friedlander said they are also looking for volunteer hosts to live on site for a couple of months to provide visitor information and help manage the area.Hosts must bring their own trailers. Anyone interested may call district headquarters at 760-788-0250.
The goal, she said, is to have people stationed at the trailhead and at the falls, at least on weekends, and she hopes to have that in place this summer. There will also be a ban on alcohol, as well as jumping and diving at the falls, but that will take a one- to two-month process, Friedlander said.