Angus Tobiason announces intention not to seek re-election
By Bill Tamburrino
While no action items were on the agenda of the Ramona Community Planning Group’s July 12 meeting, most of the action centered on review of the design for the San Vicente Road Improvement Project.
A statement from RCPG member Angus Tobiason, however, took members and those in attendance by surprise.
“This might be my last meeting,” Tobiason said.
Tobiason, 81, has been a planning group member for 24 years and said he served in a similar capacity for five years before there was a planning group. Ramona voters first elected Tobiason to the planning group in November 1988 and he has been re-elected every four years since.
RCPG Chairman Jim Piva told Tobiason that he had from July 16 to Aug. 10 to change his mind. Those are the filing dates for candidates planning to run for one of the eight seats up for election.
Nine of the group’s 15 members attended the meeting, providing one more than the eight required for a quorum. At the meeting were group members Carl Hickman, Scotty Ensign, Tobiason, Kristi Mansolf, Piva, Bob Hailey, Kevin Wallace, Torry Brean and Richard Tomlinson.
During the public forum portion of the meeting, Ramona residents Ken Brennecke and Jim Cooper made presentations against the planned Ramona Street extension. Tobiason also expressed his displeasure for the project.
Steve Ron of the county’s Department of Public Works included a PowerPoint presentation in his review of improvements planned for San Vicente Road from Warnock Drive to 500 feet east of Wildcat Canyon Road. Three other DPW employees were also on hand.
The 2.25-mile project got under way in October of 2010 and if all goes well is expected to be completed in 2015, said Ron. DPW is suggesting straightening the most dangerous curves and making improvements that will include 13-foot travel lanes, a single set of rumble strips, a 5-foot bike lane and a 10-foot pathway for hikers and horses.
Ron explained that no lodge poles or guardrails are planned because they have proven to be dangerous.
He explained that when struck by a car they are designed to deflect and pose dangers for pedestrians and horses as well as the drivers of the vehicles.
The road improvements are designed for speeds of 55 mph but the posted speed will be 50 mph. Ron stated that of the 52 driveways on the road 49 are safe for 55 mph.
Ron also stated that over 150 oak trees will have to be removed to improve sight lines. He said that the county is looking to find a use for the trees.
No residents have to be moved and no parcels need to be purchased for the project, he said.
In a public input session Kathy DaSilva, a resident who lives on San Vicente, expressed a need for a visual deterrent such as shrubs so that drivers would not be distracted while driving.
Walter Owens, who lives 600 feet from the proposed improvements, stated that he has looked into the 70 accidents that have occurred in the past five years and that the majority were caused by drunk drivers and speeding and not the present design of the road.
Owens stated that cars often travel 70 mph to 80 mph, not 55 mph, and that more trucks and buses will use the road if it is improved, which will mean more traffic because of the improvements.
Brean stated that the road needs improvement. Tobiason expressed concerns about the current water lines, and Ron said that bigger lines will be installed.
“I am not a big fan,” said Tomlinson. “People will just drive faster.”
Hickman said that he would prefer double rumble strips or putting the rumble strips on the outside of the double yellow lines.
Wallace stated that he believes that Ramona is losing its rural aura by removing 150 oak trees.
Piva’s main concern was, “Is it totally funded? Will budget cuts hurt the project? Will it happen?”
Ron explained that the money is not coming from the state; it is coming from sales tax initiatives in 1988 and 2008.
Piva also asked if the DPW would make another presentation so that the planning group could see the final plans, and Ron said yes.
The meeting lasted less than two hours.