By Mike Loranger
I’m not expecting everyone’s agreement, but only asking for an open-minded look at a different point of view.
Not one to air San Diego Country Estates Association dirty laundry for all of Ramona to see, but for whatever reason, a “Petition to Oppose the San Vicente Road Relocation and Improvements” was sent to all the SDCE homeowners in an official SDCEA mailing, leading me to conclude that somehow and for some reason our association has taken a stance against improvements to a very public thoroughfare in Ramona.
I enjoy and respect the steps the SDCEA has shown over the years to support and protect the rights of homeowners, but feel in this instance they have put their noses where they do not belong. If a group, including the SDCEA Board of Directors, opposes improvements outside the SDCE, they have every right to act privately, in which case I feel they should use neither SDCEA official mailings, nor collection resources, to their benefit.
The SDCEA petition itself dumbfounds me. I understand that we as Californians seem to sometimes defy all logic when we make decisions, but the arguments I have been exposed to as to why San Vicente Road (SVR) should be left “as is” make my head spin. These are the reasons that are stated in the petition (followed by my comments):
•The proposed new road would not eliminate the major causes of accidents on the road: excessive speed, driving under the influence and inexperienced drivers. (These are the three main causes of mishaps on ANY road. While “elimination” is a worthy goal, “reduction” is a realistic goal.)
•The proposed new road, with the same 50 mph speed limit, would only encourage people to drive faster, therefore less safe. (So an improved road will be in fact less safe? I can’t follow this logic. It is beyond my comprehension.)
•Horseback riders would not ride on a trail a few feet from 50+ mph traffic. (There is currently NO horse trail on SVR. If the equestrian community desires a safe trail, I ask they get involved in the planning process and lobby for the safety measures that will meet their needs, not stop the project.)
•The $40 million plus cost of the project ($10 million per mile) is excessive for the project and not wanted by the community it is to serve. (Although I tend to agree that the cost seems excessive, this is the cost of doing business in the State of California. That said, I can’t think of better use for our road taxes. To further state in a petition signed by a subset of individuals that these improvements are not wanted by the entire community is at best disingenuous.)
•We like the rural tree lined nature of the present road. (Take a good look at those trees when next you travel SVR. Many are scarred with the marks of automobiles that have been embedded into their trunks over and over again; also of note, damaged guardrails inches from travel lanes, automobile body parts and glass littering the road, jagged rocks inches from the pavement, blind curves without sufficient shoulder areas for emergency parking, SVR homeowners making left turns over double yellow lines, and the always fresh supply of skid marks departing the roadway heading off into bushes, trees, rocks, power poles, etc.; the list of extreme hazards on SVR is long.)
•The project would require the removal of 145 native California Live Oak trees. (There is no need to argue the aesthetics of these trees, but by law it is mandatory at least one new tree be replanted for each tree removed, and that private property owners be compensated.)
•A bike lane could be added to the current road. (A bike lane could be added, but the road would need to be widened, straightened, and trees removed. This leads us back to the beginning.)
On the morning of Saturday, April 14, 2012, my daughter, 17 years old at the time, was westbound on SVR, heading into Ramona High School for an activity. SVR road was wet, and on-scene witnesses confirmed my daughter was traveling well BELOW the speed limit; the tires on the truck were new, and all the equipment was in perfect working order.
She was rounding a curve, one of many curves on SVR where the grade of the road tilts both incorrectly and dangerously against and away from the radius of the turn, when suddenly and without warning the back end of her vehicle began to slide into the eastbound lane; she corrected to the right, and as the tires again gained traction, she departed the roadway. Leaving the roadway, she hit one of those “beautiful” trees about five feet behind the driver’s door with such impact it smashed the bed of the truck almost in half and flipped the vehicle; a split second later, she ended up about 30 feet off the road, down in a deep ditch, the truck on its side.
A passerby who witnessed the mishap climbed up on the vehicle, forced open a door and pulled my daughter from the wreckage. By the grace of God, she walked away shaken, but without a scratch.
My family was blessed that day, but countless others have not been so fortunate, and I do mean countless; this is not rhetoric, it is fact! Again I state, this is not rhetoric! This same scenario plays out over and over and over again; year after year after year after year; inexperienced driver? Yes. So what?
Again I ask the question: My daughter was an inexperienced driver. So what?
Rather than rely on hearsay and speculation, I ask you to look into the facts of this project. I spoke with the project manager, Mr. Steve Ron, and he welcome community feedback from all sides of the issue. He made it clear that anyone with an opinion on the project, whether pro, con, or neutral, can contact him at the following address:
Mr. Steve Ron
Department of Public Works
County of San Diego
5500 Overland Avenue, MS O340, Suite 320
San Diego, CA 92123
Please send Mr. Ron a note and let him know you support this project, and help him shape it to meet your needs.
Mike Loranger is a Ramona resident.