By Karen Brainard
Economic development, the winery ordinance, vernal pools, road projects, recreational activities, and public safety programs were among the topics at the Ramona Community Revitalization Steering Committee meeting with San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
Those attending the meeting in the Ramona Community Center on April 29 consisted mainly of county staff, law enforcement and chairs for the following subcommittees: parks and recreation/library, economic development, health and human services, infrastructure and transportation, and public safety and law enforcement. Jacob conducts the revitalization meeting in Ramona twice a year.
Carol Fowler, chair of the economic development subcommittee, is also vice chair of the Ramona Village Design Group, which was recently awarded a Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) grant and received $15,000 from the county. The two contributions totaled $150,000 and will allow the group to hire a professional and complete the Phase 3 document for the town center, including design standards, said Fowler.
“I think once we get these design standards in place, then we might become more developer- friendly,” Fowler said.
She noted that some aspects of the design group’s Phase 1 document have changed. Fowler said the design group has basically abandoned the idea of landscaped medians in Old Town. Instead, she said, the group is looking into some type of beautification at the entrance and at the end of Old Town, along with traffic calming measures to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
Fowler brought up the proposed south bypass, saying it makes sense to take the state highway off Main Street. Parking would be much easier, and less traffic would be more conducive to outdoor dining, she said.
Jacob said she will support the village design group’s efforts to make downtown more pedestrian- friendly. Any changes with Main Street, however, have to go through Caltrans because the street is a state highway, and several at the meeting noted the difficulties of working with Caltrans.
“Caltrans is under the gun right now,” Jacob said, mentioning a recent report from State Sen. Joel Anderson’s office about wasted tax dollars in the department of transportation. (Related article, page 10)
“They’re going to be under a lot of pressure, which could work to our advantage,” said Jacob.
Fowler also talked about plans to make Ramona a destination for tourists, such as the H.E.A.R.T. mural project, which will feature outdoor murals depicting Ramona’s history on downtown buildings. Another idea, Fowler said, is to have painted wine barrels around the community or on connecting trails.
Tiered Winery Ordinance
Jacob commented on the recent court ruling supporting the county’s tiered winery ordinance after being challenged by Coast Law Group on behalf of the San Diego Citizenry Group. Jacob called the ruling a solid victory and said the judge indicated that the plaintiff’s only recourse is at the ballot box—to go after the decision-makers. The judge ordered the San Diego Citizenry Group to pay the county fees associated with the case which Jacob said rarely happens. The citizenry group has 60 days to appeal the judge’s decision, she noted.