Welcome to the Citizens for a Rural Ramona (CFARR) Website.
This site and its companion site www.CFARR.info will be bringing you information on what plans the County of San Diego has for our peaceful little valley, the role of the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) in protecting the rural heritage we are entrusted to safeguard, what you can do to help and how you can get involved.
Points of contact for further information are Donna Myers at 760-789-2652 and Ken Brennecke at 760-788-8145; firstname.lastname@example.org .
You are all invited. Help us save our valley from real estate, road building, and development interests including the County’s master planning for forcing more people into this rural area by over building infrastructure and changing zoning without the consent of the current residents.
The next meeting of CFARR will occur at the Myers Residence, 1819 Warnock Drive at 7:00 on Wednesday, the 3rd of September, 2014.
Report to SANDAG on the Infeasibility of the Proposed Ramona Street Extension that was submitted Aug. 27th, 2012.
Write Supervisor Diane Jacob and let her know that you do not support the road building and development that the RCPG has sanctioned. Her contact information is Supervisor Dianne Jacob, County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 531-5522, (619) 696-7253 (fax), email@example.com . Include your name and address so she can respond.
Show up for the Ramona Community Planning Group meetings that are held the first Thursday of every month at the new library. The individuals who wish to speak are given 3 minutes each. Non-agenda speakers are first and speakers on agenda items are taken when that topic is discussed. We strongly urge you to voice your objections to road and building projects. The more public participation, the greater the chance of getting the RCPG to reverse course on projects it has approved but that are detrimental to the Ramona community.
Attend CFARR meetings and contribute your time and talent. Contribute financially if you can. Getting the word out costs a bit but it isn’t too awfully expensive. CFARR is merely a group of your neighbors opposed to destructive County projects and supporting those projects that make sense. Since we are not a non-profit, contributions are not tax deductible.
Register to vote and then vote for candidates that support keeping rural lands rural. Many current RCPG members have cloaked themselves as being advocates for preserving rural lands only to vote consistently for development and roads that facilitate development. Kevin Wallace, Donna Myers, and Jim Cooper are the only current RCPG members that have CFARR’s full confidence and support. Let’s give them some help.
Projects Supported and Opposed by CFARR
The proposed southern bypass; the first phase of which is the Dye Road extension that would go through the pasture pictured above.
Cumming Ranch; it falls outside of a rural/suburban boundary that CFARR supports near Etcheverry Street.
The proposed plan to build a solar power plant just south of Warnock Drive.
The improvement of 13th Street between the new library and the industrial area to the north.
Botanical Garden in the center of the Southern Valley.
Proposed Ramona Street Extension
This easement first appears on a map submitted to the County by the Santa Maria Land and Water Company filed October 15th, 1890 and becoming Map #643. The streets are laid out in 7 adjacent grids of various densities and angles but the important thing to notice in this case is that the grid in this area continues in a straight line with no accommodation to the topography. On July 9th, 1909 the County accepted the “streets, alleys and public highways” of certain maps filed with the County. On September 11th, 1911 the County Board of Supervisors specifically adopted the Ramona map, map #643.
In 2005, the connection of the two flat segments of Ramona Street (from HWY 67 to Boundary Avenue and from Dye Road to Warnock Drive) found its way into the top10 list (at number 6) for road projects and since that time has floated to the top of the list for two reasons. First it was perceived by the Ramona Community Planning Group that it would be inexpensive and it would be easy. These assumptions turned out not to be true.
This road segment would bisect a considerable hill. In fact, the hill is so steep that for the last 120 years the community of Ramona has grown up going around the hill to the corridor at San Vicente rather than go over the hill. This makes sense because horse drawn buckboards and early motor driven vehicles were unable to negotiate the incline.
It appears simple on paper. Merely connect the two road segments with a straight line and make one straight road connecting the southern valley to Main Street. This road segment is one third of a mile in length. The current plan is actually the fourth plan that the Department of Public Works (DPW) has proposed for this project. The first one was created without realizing that a City of San Diego aqueduct lies below the road easement. This plan did not get out of the DPW and a second plan was created.
This second plan chose to not disturb the aqueduct because the City of San Diego aqueduct has prior rights on the easement. Consequently, the County would have to pay for any disturbance, restoration, or movement of the aqueduct. Another feature of this second plan was that to get the arc of the road correct, the engineers had to build giant ramps of dirt on either end of the segment (an 8 foot lifting of the roadbed on the north side and a 12 foot rise in the road bed above grade to the south near Warnock Drive). To support those ramps the pyramids of soil required would have spilled into adjacent properties to a considerable extent. The effects would have been so onerous that the RCPG in the spring of 2009 voted to kill this plan. However, instead of recognizing the ongoing difficulties would be inherent in any plan, they chose to ask the DPW for a third plan.
The third plan called for lowering the roadbed in the center of the hill and keeping the buildup of soil on either end to a minimum. Because of a change of the County road building standards in the spring of 2010, the allowed slope was reduced by a couple of percent. As a result, the lowering of the roadbed for a driveway at the top of the hill will be in excess of the 5 feet shown on the DPW’s 30% plans that they released 8 months ago. The encroachment of the third plan on adjacent properties is considerably more than the second plan and is concentrated at the center of the segment rather than at the two ends.
The fourth and most current plan now calls for a more or less full line of sight from Warnock Drive to Boundary Avenue. To achieve this the DPW (70% plans) has proposed to lower the roadbed an additional 10 feet from the apex of the hill (that makes 14 feet in all). The aqueduct will be lowered an additional 10 feet and the encroachment into surrounding properties will increase to 30 feet for the slope cuts and as much as 100 feet for the driveway alterations. This is beginning to take on the character of the top of Scripps Poway Parkway.
It is becoming obvious that there is no good engineering solution to this road segment. Actually, plans two and three that were rejected were better solutions than this fourth plan because they created fewer hazards and fewer adjacent impacts. We are now awaiting plan five to be put forward by the Department of Public Works.
Objections to the Plan
For those of you who live in San Diego Country Estates and use Dye Road to get to HWY 67 and down the hill, you travel from San Vicente to Warnock Drive to Ramona Street and then to Dye Road. Currently, at the intersection of Ramona Street and Warnock Drive there are only two traffic streams, that is, only one way to proceed. You round the corner unopposed and traffic flows smoothly and quickly. There also have never been any accidents of any consequence at that intersection. If the proposed Ramona Street extension is built you will have three traffic streams entering the intersection and there will need to be arbitration there. That will mean delays for you at that intersection no matter what is put there, stop signs, signal, or stop signs on only some of the entrances to the intersection. There is so much traffic at that point in the morning (about 500 cars between 6:30 AM and 8:00 AM on weekdays) that a backup reaching San Vicente is a distinct likelihood.
For those of you delivering your kids to the Hanson Elementary at the end of Boundary Avenue, the same situation applies. Right now you round the corner at Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street with virtually no opposition. If there are three streams of traffic at the intersection then traffic arbitration there will delay traffic from every direction. There are about 720 cars that round that corner each day.
The RCPG and the Trails and Transportation subcommittee have completely ignored these issues. Furthermore, the RCPG has resisted every effort to learn the facts by blocking presentations to them about the considerable drawbacks to this fourth plan. This fourth plan actually has more problems associated with it than the three previous plans that have been rejected as unworkable. The RCPG and the DPW have made some references to increased circulation. Another circulation link might be forged but if it is not free flowing and makes matters worse then it should not be built.
One member of the RCPG argued for the proposed extension because it was supposed to alleviate traffic on Hanson Lane. However, he either forgot or hadn’t read the traffic analysis commissioned by the DPW that indicated that the traffic on Hanson Lane would actually increase if the proposed Ramona Street extension were built. So more congestion and delay even a considerable distance from the segment will be the result.
Line of sight requirements to the right up Creelman Lane cannot be met for traffic that would turn left onto Boundary Avenue from the proposed Ramona Street extension. The current iteration of the plan calls for a stop sign on the proposed Ramona Street extension as it enters the Warnock Drive/Ramona Street intersection. Any car at that stop sign will block a resident’s driveway.
For the third plan, the projected cost for the project is $5.2M. This is only for construction costs. It does not include acquisition (by slopping over the easement boundary they have to purchase land) nor does it include litigation costs. Actually, the construction costs they project may be too low. Independent estimates CFARR has received place the construction costs closer to $7M. And remember the City of San Diego aqueduct? The County will have to spend about $950K to lower it because now the proposed roadbed will intersect it. Now that we have seen the plans for the fourth iteration of this road with the drastic cutting down of the hill that is proposed, these costs will increase dramatically but the DPW has not been forthcoming about any cost estimate yet.
The DPW, in their documents, has admitted to spending at least $690K so far in the development of the project concept. That would be $240K in fiscal year 08/09 for project development, $50K for preliminary engineering, and $400K for project development. For a 1,337 foot linkage. The cost to produce the fourth plan is in addition to these costs but we don’t have the figures yet from the DPW.
A RCPG member argued for the proposed extension because of the amount of money that has already been spent would be wasted if the road wasn’t built. However, the money that has been spent on these three plans merely demonstrates the need to thoroughly scope the project and reject it (and the greatly increased costs of building it) if the benefits do not outweigh the liabilities. That is money well spent.
Just recently it was discovered that a huge granite formation lies below the surface of the proposed roadbed. This increases the cost considerably because of the necessity of blasting for the roadway and for the trench that would have to carry the aqueduct when they try to lower it as much as 15 feet from its present location.
The speed limit on the proposed segment is 40 MPH. However, with Ramona High School so close it is not unreasonable to expect traffic to exceed that as a rule. No safety considerations have ever been addressed by the RCPG. The roadway is supposedly to be constructed to the March 2010 County Road Building Standards. However, the latest plan that we have seen cannot be built without violating these standards. Some driveways would be lowered by 15 feet making the uphill slope in excess of 24%. The maximum slope that an emergency vehicle could negotiate is 15%. The distances between four driveways on the segment are 60 feet, 81 feet, 70 feet, and 90 feet center to center. The minimum allowance is 100 feet. This means that even if the 400 feet of line of sight requirement is met (for a 40 MPH road) there will still be virtually no time for a vehicle or especially a vehicle with a horse trailer to get out of their driveway without substantial risk of being hit. Furthermore, the intersection of Boundary Avenue and Ramona Street is 0.73 miles from Hanson Elementary. There is no danger to children negotiating that intersection presently. With the proposed extension completed, Ramona Street will become a racetrack and kids all along Ramona Street will be in danger. Notice that neither the County nor the RCPG have considered sidewalks important for Ramona Street between Hanson Lane and Boundary Avenue. Due to the extensive cuts proposed for the roadbed in plan four there will have to be a minimum of three more driveways on that proposed road segment to accommodate access to the affected landowners property. This exacerbates the problem of adequate separation of driveways along the roadway. Presently there are four violations of the County’s building standards and the new driveways will increase the number of nonconforming separations. This will make the roadway extremely hazardous for residents along the roadway and anyone who is unlucky enough to collide with them. There just won’t be enough time to get in or out of the properties.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document (Feb. 28, 2008) that is current for this project was developed for the second plan for the road. The description of the project in the Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (March 4, 2008) makes no mention of moving an aqueduct. This fourth plan for the road is not in substantial conformance with the second plan and it is our contention that the County is going to have to go back to the beginning and create a CEQA document for this fourth plan for the road. CFARR has solicited the help of attorneys in San Francisco to make this case to the County Board of Supervisors. Also, since the CEQA study was done by the DPW and not contracted out to an independent company, the whole issue of propriety can be raised. The DPW should not be creating studies that validate their own position. Also, because the fourth plan now calls for road modifications to the south of the Warnock Drive/Ramona Street intersection and north of the Ramona Street/Boundary Avenue intersection, the DPW has further modified the plan and substantial conformance is gone.
The County for the last 120 years has presumed that the 1890 map should be executed as shown in this area. However, up to about 1982, there was no apparent viable alternative use for the land. At that time it was recognized that the hill that is bounded by Boundary Avenue to the north, Royal Vista Drive to the west and to the south, Warnock Drive to the south and Dowles dairy to the east is the ideal location for a botanical garden in the greater Ramona valley.
The two concepts are mutually exclusive. If the botanical garden is built the road cannot go through it. If the road is built the botanical garden will not have the resources it needs to develop.
If you look at the hill, it is not littered with granite outcroppings, has top soil from 1 to 3 feet deep, sits sufficiently above the valley floor to provide adequate cold air drainage, and it is naturally the warmest spot in the valley. It is the only place in Ramona that an outstanding botanical garden could be built. Actually, all the technical problems have been solved and planting has already begun. However, until the proposed Ramona Street extension is completely put to rest –forever- the 50 to 100 acre garden development cannot proceed.
There is a 3 acre garden in Vista, CA that is the prototype for the garden that is being built in Ramona. You can access 5 panoramic views of about 5% of that garden by following this link www.palmpedia.net/wiki/THE_DARIAN_SUBMONTANE_PALMATUM . Go to the bottom of the featured article for the links to the panoramas.
The RCPG has not considered this alternative at all. They listen but don’t have the desire to challenge the County to bring an attraction into the Ramona valley that could provide significant economic, research, and recreational benefit to Ramona residents.
If getting across the southern valley is so important, there already exist two alternative routes. The first is Royal Vista Drive and the second is Keyser Road. Keyser Road is already a County dedicated road and requires only paving for part of its length. Unfortunately, for the residents along Royal Vista Drive, the gate that blocked traffic along its entire length has been down for some years and a right-of-way may now exist. The County has not seriously considered either route. Although it appears an easy task to make a straight-line connection on Ramona Street, the aqueduct move, the engineering and construction required to scale the hill and their attendant over-the-top costs, the concerns about safety for residents and pedestrians (school students), increased traffic congestion, and the destruction of the site for a botanical garden are all persuasive arguments for rerouting any such connection away from Ramona Street.
This fourth plan will make a very deep cut through the hill. It will turn the area into something resembling the top of Scripps Poway Parkway (not as large but just as ugly). This is completely out of character with the rural ambiance of the rest of Ramona. Such an eyesore does not exist (at present) anywhere else in Ramona.
The Dye Road extension is the first implementation of the 4 part proposed Southern Bypass that will completely destroy the southern Ramona valley. It is the second part of the project but is being put forth first for two reasons, first it is the least expensive, and second it would completely destroy the agricultural and rural character of the southern Ramona valley. If built the rest of the project would follow as a matter of course. The connection is from the Ramona Street and Dye Road intersection to the intersection of Warnock Drive and San Vicente. It would pass through the pasture pictured at the top of this web page. The CEQA Initial Study for the project (March 12, 2009) enumerates 35 potentially significant impacts on every aspect of this project.
Objections to the Plan
The proposed road extension needlessly cuts through agricultural land thus dividing it up into smaller more unusable pieces.
The only justification given for this plan is that eliminating the 90 degree turns at Dye Road/Ramona Street and at Warnock Drive/Ramona Street will create a safer roadway. However, there are some problems with that. First, the DPW included with the accident figures at those two intersections all the accidents that were reported from Dye Road and HWY 67 to Warnock Drive and San Vicente. That is not a fair appraisal of the two intersections. Furthermore, at the time the CEQA study went up for public comment, the Highway Patrol was converting from a manual accident reporting system to one that would be online and databased. Consequently, no independent verification could have been made at the time to challenge the findings of the CEQA study.
No fatal accidents have ever occurred at the intersections of Dye Road/Ramona Street and Warnock Drive/Ramona Street. However, with the proposed Dye Road extension being a higher speed roadway the chances of a fatality on that proposed road segment is substantial.
Almost all of the accidents at those two intersections have nothing to do with the roadway configuration itself. Booze does play large role however. One accident occurred when a boom on a utility truck was not adequately fastened down and struck a pole when going around the corner. Hardly the roadway’s fault.
This is not about straightening a road for safety reasons. It is about putting a high-speed roadway through the southern valley of Ramona to develop and industrialize the area and remove its ability to function as farms and dairies. This is the second segment of the proposed Southern Bypass. It is the cheapest to build and will both destroy a substantial part of the rural character of the area and will be used as an argument to finish the other three phases of the Southern Bypass.
The Proposed Southern Bypass
The plan is composed of four phases. First is a segment from Mussey Grade Road moving east down Dye Street and tying in to Dye Road just south of Lansdown Ln. Next is the Dye Road Extension mentioned above. Third is a segment from Warnock Drive and San Vicente Road due east to Keyes at Creelman. The fourth segment is up Keyes and then jogging over to east a bit and up Amigos Road.
Objections to the Plan
Main Street Businesses
The most glaring problem with this plan is the devastation it would create on the businesses along Main Street. With traffic flowing around Main Street, the decrease in potential customers, especially in tough economic times, would put many out of business. This plan was rejected in the mid 1990’s by the RCPG but with the current makeup of the RCPG it has found favor.
Adjacent Homes and Communities
Quiet rural areas in the valley would experience tremendous volumes of traffic, noise, and pollution that they haven’t experienced before. This would open these areas up to industrialization and development.
Longer and More Time Consuming Route
This proposed bypass is about one third longer and there will be a comparable number of traffic stops. So this route will take traffic longer to cross Ramona than Main Street. That is not an improvement.
A housing development plan to place 125 small parcel homes on 682 acres of land north of Highway 67 and west of Highland Valley Road.
Objections to the Plan
Please refer to http://zmech1.globat.com/ for the time being. CFARR opposes this plan because it lies beyond the rural/suburban boundary that is presently a bit west of Sawday Street.
Photovoltaic Solar Project
The proposal is to cover 46.32 acres of A72 farmland with solar panels just south of the pig farm facility that is south of Warnock Drive between San Vicente and Ramona Street. This is prime agricultural bottom land. In their Jan. 5th ,2012 meeting the RCPG did vote this project down as being too ugly for the area. But remember that the RCPG is only advisory to the County. The County planner in charge of overseeing this project informed us that the petitioners (SolOrchard) intend to go forward with the plan. So the next two battlefields will be the public review of the plans and the consideration of the project at the County Commissioner level. This plan does not need Supervisor approval and will not be placed before them. The best estimate of when the public comment of the project will occur is sometime after June of 2012. We will post more information here as it is discovered.
Objections to the Plan
The area is zoned for agriculture and placing a power plant on the site is an inconsistent use. Furthermore, despite the fact that the project only has a proposed 25 year life, there is no reason to believe that once established, it will ever be returned to agriculture. There is a high risk of poisoning the land in the process and making it permanently unusable for livestock or agriculture. This also poses a threat to the water supply since the property is at the bottom of a natural drainage corridor. Also, land that lies fallow for so long is not capable of returning to the production of even oat hay for decades.
Very ugly, supported with a metal armature and destroying the rural ambiance of the area.
How Rural Lands Are Lost
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is in the business of building roads. Although it is quick to point out that the decision as to which roads get built is a decision by the local planning group, it influences which roads get built in three ways. First, it lets its priorities be known to the local planning groups and the County. Second, it funds roads that it wants to build even before the project within the Department of Public Works (DPW) is mature. This practice creates a false sense of momentum for the project and this practice has been successfully challenged in the courts. Third, it supplies population projections to stampede local planning groups into adopting road plans that they really don’t need to consider. What they aren’t telling anyone is that the population increases depend on these roads being built or improved. If roads are not built or existing roads not made larger then development is not facilitated and population increases very much more slowly (or it goes elsewhere).
The County maps out road projects very far in advance, usually in the 30 to 100 year range. This is done to accumulate easements for future roads. However, this practice has several disadvantages. First, it is usually only considering cost when mapping out these roads. Consequently, roads are specified along the path of least resistance and that means at the bottom of valleys where it is relatively easy to build a road. These areas are, more often than not, prime agricultural land. The County has made this mistake over and over again in almost all communities. Second, they do not solicit input from the residents along or in the way of the road until the plans are very far along. They therefore miss opportunities for more elegant alternate use of these lands. Third, these roads tend to split communities and greatly impede traffic perpendicular to the road. Santee is an excellent current example. Highway 52 was improved but at the cost of all but a few of the streets perpendicular to the highway. So getting around Santee is much more difficult now. Non-highway traffic is channeled into only a few specific corridors with the attendant increase in congestion, noise, and filth.
Another thing the County has done is decouple the agricultural designator for a parcel from the density designator. This is particularly bad because an agriculturally zoned area will slowly have its density increased until it is worthless for any agricultural endeavor. Then it becomes an easy argument for planners to suggest that it should be zoned residential (suburban) anyway because no serious agriculture is being practiced on the parcels. In fact, the up-zoning of parcels occurs almost always without the consent or knowledge of the parcel owner. This practice should be strictly forbidden.
The County makes its plans and then waits. It waits for a community planning group to agree with its plans. If the planning group forgets to be a good steward or tries to game the system for its own development interests, then the residents find the County building these ill-conceived road projects through their quiet rural habitat.
THE COMMUNITY PLANNING GROUP
This group has the authority to formally initiate projects. Despite the fact that the County claims these groups are only advisory, they rarely will countermand the planning group’s decision. Incidentally, they also may drop a project if the community planning group votes a project down.
The implications of this are that if you are dissatisfied with existing roads being unnecessarily enlarged, new roads being built where they shouldn’t go, new housing developments given the green light and destroying the quality of your life, then the local planning group is primarily responsible.
How Rural Lands Can Be Retained
The most effective weapon to avoid suburban and urban creep outwards from the city center is to create two boundaries that once set cannot be overturned. The first would be an urban/suburban boundary around the most built up center of the town and the second would be a suburban/rural boundary that has within it all of the smaller parcels but none of the larger parcels.
Now a zone designation that can be changed (especially on the majority vote of a planning group or board of supervisors) is no zone at all. When the public and landowners are not explicitly and individually notified about proposed changes, then these governing bodies should not have the authority to make zoning decisions. In fact, these matters are so important, that the decision should be left to the voters and not placed in the hands of representatives that have a strong tendency to ignore their constituents.
In Ramona, looking at the density map that is current, a rural/suburban boundary could be drawn as follows: Starting at the intersection of Amigos Road and Julian Road go south down Amigos Road to Old Julian Highway but include within the boundary the parcels to the immediate east of the road. Go southwest to Shandy Lane. Go south on the northern extension of Wilson Road from Shandy Lane to Steffy Road. Proceed west on Steffy Road to Keyes Road. Go south on Keyes Road to Hanson Lane. Go west on Hanson Lane to Barnett Road. From Hanson Lane extend a line due south down Barnett Road to Creelman Lane. From Creelman Lane go west in a straight line to the western most point of Boundary Avenue. From the western most point of Boundary Avenue go north to the western most point of Etcheverry Street. From there go directly west until you coincide with the north/south line of the western edge of the parcels on the west side of Sawday Street. Proceed north to the extension of Daley Street. East to Hughes Street and north up Hughes Street to Montecito including only the parcels to the east of Hughes Street and south of Montecito. Go east on Montecito including only those parcels south of Montecito until it intersects with the Santa Maria River. Follow the Santa Maria River northeast to Elm Street. North on Elm Street to Ash Street then east on Ash Street until Thomsen Way. Then south on Thomsen Way to Julian Road then east to Amigos Road.
Once everyone knows the boundaries, the citizens can plan long term and pass rural land on to their descendents and the politicians cannot game the system.
The Response to the Kim Miller opinion in the Ramona Sentinel, July 28, 2011
We will be updating this site regularly so please revisit to be informed on the evolving state of affairs.