By Diane Chapman
I want a shortcut to Stater Bros.?
Comments like this populated the Ramona Community Planning Group meeting April 3. Dennis Sprong, arriving late, felt he needed a faster way to get to the store. And we also learned that Dennis wanted a straighter road on Dye Street because it bothered him that people went fast on this stretch of road.
This is just a taste of the educated and scientific notations from our planning group leaders during the meeting. It was interesting to watch. One would think that perhaps it was orchestrated far in advance. Don’t worry, folks. We are in very good hands.
The majority of people in attendance were against the South Bypass, all four phases. But that did not prevent Jim Piva (I loved the Warnock solar plant before I hated it fame) from ignoring Carl Hickman’s suggestions that we move this item up on the agenda. And while going out of his way to suggest that everyone in Ramona wants a win-win and spending quite a bit of time on this happy theme with the organic farm issue, he neglected to be as magnanimous when addressing Donna Myers, Ken and Patty Brennecke, Joe Minervini and everyone else who came to oppose the bypass. By the way, is there a time limit on the chairman’s comments and asides? He took the lion’s share of the air in the room last night.
“It will be over 50 years before we get to the Southern Bypass on Keyes Road,” says Jim, “so don’t bring this up if you are going to talk.” Then why not vacate this road, asked Kathy DaSilva? Others brought this up as well to no avail. More importantly, those who own property and business concerns that are affected by the bypass must disclose this during a sale and it will affect the value of their property.
Mr. Hickman conceded that the bypass, Keyes Road phase, would not solve any of the current and future traffic issues that Ramona faces. He wisely observed that as long as we keep this portion of the bypass on the list, it gives Caltrans an out to fix the real problem — Highway 67.
Most people with common sense agree that the focus on traffic should be the areas of growth (Cumming Ranch, Montecito Ranch) and the limited scope of Highway 67 to handle traffic as is. There is no growth coming from the Estates and Keyes Road.
Hey, don’t worry everyone, says Jim, the Southern Bypass will not be built in my lifetime.
But then, the time to vote came and Jim had a clever resolution. Put the Dye Road straightening and the new Dye Road bypass at Mussey Grade phases of the bypass onto the Top 10 roads list for the county. The fix was in. But Jim, why would we do the first 2 phases if the Keyes Road phase will never be built?
Richard Tomlinson, a civil engineer on the board, stated that the Dye Road portion was not necessary, that to straighten out the two 90 degree turns on the road would mean faster speeds and thus more serious head-on accidents. Ken Brennecke had provided data earlier that stated there were no fatal accidents on Dye Road, that the few that were recorded were nondescript. In other words, there are no safety issues. So while it may bother Dennis that people go faster than they should, the money spent on this, $16 million, will not affect a change and may make it worse.
Chad Anderson weighed in with his scientific observation from childhood. Someone had gone straight ahead instead of taking the 90 degree turn on Dye Road. Therefore, the road must be straight. Falling in line with the other “straight road” club members.
But don’t worry, everyone. The Keyes Road portion of the project will not be built in our lifetime. Then why build it? Why is it still on the list? Why not take if off and pressure Caltrans to come up with a real solution? That solution is to fix Hwy. 67 to 10th Street.
Kevin Wallace, a board member, lamented the fact that we were in a rush to turn Ramona into Poway. And most of the room agreed with him.
There is no doubt that the Hwy. 67 and Highland is one of the worst traffic problems. Caltrans has been given money to enlarge and elongate this area and create a right-hand turn lane that would take the Estates traffic off Hwy. 67 earlier and alleviate the congestion. With this in mind, many citizens asked why the need for this phase of the Southern Bypass then?
Once again, no answer. But hey, don’t worry, the Keyes Road portion will not be built in our lifetimes. So go ahead and rip up a rural area and build a redundant road that will not be necessary with the Caltrans work that has been approved.
Last but not least is an interesting road project — the proposed and non-feasible Ramona Street extension. Never mind that a woman on a ventilator who lives on Hanson Lane gave the planning group the enormous traffic numbers on her street. Over 9,000 cars pass by her home on a daily basis, she said. This is the Hanson Lane that intersects Ramona Street.
Tomlinson is one of the few board members to have visited the site. He told the room that the road is a bad idea, he cannot see how it can be built and, worse, at least one home will be destroyed for Dennis’ road to Stater Brothers. This road would be dumping traffic onto a road where three schools reside. To date, the study for this road is almost up to $1 million. Ken and Patty Brennecke as well as Jim Cooper have said this road makes no sense. The engineering and traffic data are ignored and few board members have visited the site. Yet, they are willing to vote on this? Anyone from the Estates contemplating this new route would be going backwards to get to town. There would be a stop sign near the Ramona Street and Dye Road portion of the road and it would take longer. And thus, this route would not be used.
Finally, Jim Piva called for a vote and he had a clever resolution. The way he created his road list and structured the vote for the entire list, not road by road. This meant that Donna Myers was excluded from voting. During the Transportation and Trails meeting, the list of road projects were voted on one by one, a fair way to vote.
Due to political maneuvering, Piva took the right to vote from Donna. A conflict of interest, he told her. Yet, what about Dennis Sprong, who lives on Gem Lane, next to the Keyes Road phase of the bypass. And what about Eb Hogervorst, who has family/financial interests in the chicken farm that is along the bypass route. Carl Hickman is a county employee in the traffic department and should have been excused for wearing two hats, county and Ramona.
It was great Kabuki theater by our chairman and his team. I hope more citizens will come to these meetings and take a stand. Otherwise, a small group will dictate what happens in Ramona.
Diane Chapman is a Ramona resident.