In last week’s column we raised the question of downtown walkability. Executive Director Craig Jung related the problem to the fact that “we are on a main highway, with not a lot of parking.”
Carol Fowler, a Ramona realtor who sits on the Ramona Revitalization Committee and the Ramona Village Design Committee, echoed that concern in a subsequent interview with Patch.
She said landscaped medians and other traffic-calming barriers, which have been set up in some parts of town, can help with the problem. Fowler also said there are some downtown parcels of land that could be developed as parking areas.
The Revitalization Committee was organized under San Diego County’s Community Revitalization Program activated by the County Board of Supervisors in 1996. Each committee includes representatives from community organizations, including community planning groups. County staff work with committee members “to resolve those issues for which the county has available programs,” according to the County's website.
The Revitalization Committee meets twice a year and is chaired by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Fowler said. Fowler chairs the group’s subcommittee on Economic Development. Other subcommittees include Health and Human Services, Transportation and Infrastructure, Parks and Recreation, and Law Enforcement, she said.
Fowler is also vice-chair of the Ramona Village Design Committee, which meets once a month and is made up of members from Ramona Chamber of Commerce, the planning group, the Design Review Board, the water district and school board. The design committee is now in the final phase of developing a special area plan for Ramona’s center.
“Our purview is from 3rd to Etcheverry,” Fowler said. What the committee calls the Ramona Village Plan divides downtown into three sections: “Old Town from Third to Tenth, Paseo from Tenth to Pala, and Collonade from Pala to Etcheverry.”
She said they’re looking at more changes in Old Town “similar to what was done around the town hall with the trees and park benches.” Her hope is eventually to “have the look of Old Town throughout most of Main Street."
Part of the committee’s work involves turning County guidelines for development into enforceable standards, conforming to the scale and character of downtown Ramona. Fowler gave as an example architectural standards, like building style, height, setback from the street, etc.
Another aspect is what Fowler called “tailored zoning.” For example, she said, “Main Street has a lot of vacant one-acre lots that could be rehabilitated.” In one such lot “the front part was zoned commercial, the rear residential.” Her group worked with the County to get it rezoned to a classification that allows for both all over the property.
“We are looking at the needs of Ramona” Fowler said. “We don’t have a lot of retail. We go down the hill to buy a lot of things we need because we can’t buy them up here.”
Fowler was echoing some comments Patch received after the last column from both downtown merchants and customers who commented on a lack of more diversified shopping.
“We’re trying to create a more balanced retail base in Ramona,” said Fowler, '"so we don’t spend as much of our sales tax base in Escondido, Poway or San Diego."
Fowler said the Village Design Committee recently received a $150,000 grant from CalTrans. This will enable them to continue working with a consulting firm, Placemakers.
“We’ll be holding more community meetings, working with the and Design Review Board,” Fowler said.