By Karen Brainard
As the Ramona Village Design Group continues to refine its draft Ramona Village Core Document of design standards and custom-tailored zoning, not all members agree with some of the requirements.
Village Design Chair Rob Lewallen said the document may go before the San Diego County Planning Commission in February and then to the board of supervisors in March. After that it would take about 45 days for it to become the “law of the land,” he said.
The design group has been working with county staff and consultant Howard Blackson of Placemakers on form-based code zoning to create a more walkable Main Street and to create character to help give Ramona an identity. The plan divides the town center into three sections: the Colonnade, from Etcheverry to Pala streets; the Paseo, from Pala to 10th streets; and Old Town, from 10th to Third streets. The sections extend two to three blocks on each side of Main Street and are divided into six zoning districts, such as V5-Center District and V3 Edge District, that dictate building use, placement, and height, and design elements for new projects.
When the village design group met Monday, Nov. 18, member Steve Powell said he was frustrated with the document. Instead of streamlining the building process, Powell said it appears to be more confusing. He and member Ron Rodolff said they did not like required maximum setbacks instead of minimum setbacks for building placement. The form-based code zoning calls for buildings to be up front on a lot, close to the street, with parking lots in the rear so cars do not dominate the faces of the buildings. Although Old Town is already that way, Rodolff said property owners in the Colonnade and Paseo should be able to decide where they want to place a building on their lot.
Carol Fowler, the group’s vice chair, said placing buildings up front doesn’t work in the Paseo where shopping center entrances face big parking lots.
“Any kind of big box wants that sea of parking in front,” she said.
Member Bob Stoody called the building placement “too restrictive” and said he thought the main goal was to streamline the process. Powell said he doesn’t see “mom and pop” shops coming to Ramona.
“It is too expensive, too lengthy of a process,” he said.
In addition to the Village Core Document, the county has developed a 28-plus page design review checklist that contains much of what is in the document. Lewallen said they want the checklist incorporated into the document, but county staff said it cannot be done.
Lewallen said once the plan is adopted, the village design group will monitor how well it works and possibly merge with the Ramona Community Planning Group’s Current Urban Development Area (CUDA) Subcommittee. Project applicants would have to meet with the Ramona Design Review Board, CUDA and the planning group, he said, but the goal would be to schedule all the meetings within a week. The design review board meets the last Thursday of the month and the planning group meets the first Thursday of the month.
Village design group members said they liked the color palette from Sherwin Williams historic color palette of earth tones, greens and reds proposed for building exteriors.
Other areas that still need work include how to create a maintenance district and funding mechanism for pocket parks and landscaped medians in the village core.