By Karen Brainard
“Unusual, unique, and wonderful.” Those were the words Ramona Village Design Chair Rob Lewallen used after three community advisory groups unanimously approved the draft Ramona Village Center Form-Based Code.
Lewallen presented the 121-page document at a joint meeting of the village design group, Ramona Community Planning Group, and Ramona Design Review Board, held before the planning group’s regular meeting on Dec. 6. Of the 29 members sitting on all three groups, 23 attended the meeting.
“It may be the only time the community of Ramona ever has voted on anything unanimously,” he said.
No one from the public spoke against the plan.
The next step will be approval by the county Planning Commission, according to Howard Blackson, the PlaceMakers consultant who has been working with the village design group for approximately two years. He expects the commission to consider it in early February.
Lewallen briefly reviewed the background of developing the plan and the mechanics, noting that it creates Ramona-specific zoning for the town rather than a county-wide “one size fits all” zoning.
The plan, based on one in Fallbrook, addresses three sections of the village core: the Colonnade on the west side of town, from Etcheverry to Pala streets; Paseo, from Pala to 10th streets; and Old Town, the historic part of town. The planning areas extend two to three blocks on each side of Main Street in those areas.
Blackson, who was hired by the county, said the plan will help streamline the building process for new projects while maintaining the rural character of Ramona. According to Blackson, Alpine is working on a similar plan but on a smaller level. He said the plan should be periodically reviewed.
The document has been 10 years in the making, and was funded by thousands of dollars from the county and from Caltrans, noted Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva.
“I think this is what Ramona needs,” he said. “I like the plan because it gives us continuity.”
In addition to the zoning, the plan covers such elements as building types, lighting, landscaping, signage, and parking.