By Karen Brainard
Ramona Village Design Group members stressed the importance of completing the Ramona custom-tailored zoning, known as a SmartCode, now that funding is finally available.
A $135,000 Caltrans grant and $15,000 from the county will allow the village design group to re-hire Howard Blackson of PlaceMakers, the consultant who helped the group develop a planning document for the Ramona SmartCode nearly two years ago.
At the group’s meeting last Thursday, Village Design Chair Rob Lewallen said he had received an email from Blackson, suggesting a three-day workshop be held this summer. Blackson conducted a workshop in August 2009 to gather input from the community regarding design and character for downtown Ramona.
A $50,000 Community Development Block Grant was used to initially hire Blackson, but the money was spent by October 2009. Devon Muto, with advance planning at the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU), told the group at that time that it would cost about $200,000 to complete the design work and implement the code.
Lewallen said he wants to make sure the work can be completed this time.
He suggested that the group ask County Supervisor Dianne Jacob for additional money to reach the $200,000 mark if that’s what it will take to complete the project.
“It sounds like we’re on the verge of getting this whole thing to work,” said Lewallen.
Although Lewallen said the custom-tailored zoning should streamline the development process, other members questioned whether it would help push projects through the county, noting that the county process can be lengthy and problematic.
Member Greg Roberson suggested Muto should be involved again, along with Blackson.
In other business, Lewallen said May 5 and 6 will be the dates for next year’s bluegrass festival. Lewallen touted the success of this year’s festival, held April 30 and May 1.
“The entertainment was really good this year,” he said.
Describing impromptu jamming sessions among people at the festival, Lewallen said, “The feeling is just so laid-back.”