Residents had a chance to let their voices be heard loud and clear on the subject of flooding on Thursday night at a meeting of
And some did just that.
The County Flood Control District Manager, Cid Tesoro, and a representative from Rick Engineering Company, Dennis Bowling, gave a slide presentation of 11 sites in Ramona that have been prioritized for improvements.
The list was based on an overview of the entire watershed and only looked at pipes of 36-inches diameter or larger. It doesn't have any correlation with locations that residents may be concerned about, the two men said. That's where the public input process comes in, they said.
Prioritized sites on the list are on:
7th & D Street
Dos Picos Park Road
San Vicente Road
Bowling commented that some pipes are severely undersized for the water flow, and some are corrugated pipe— "and that’s something that’s always on our radar because they tend to fail more quickly," he said.
"The system for selecting locations was developed by the Flood Control Commission more than 15 years ago," Bowling said. "It has evolved a little bit since then."
But the list didn't satisfy some residents of Kelly and Raymond avenues, who didn't see their areas among those chosen.
“You’ve missed Lenton and Hunter," said Jerry Berman of Raymond Avenue. "It floods at Denny’s every time it rains."
Linda Berman said of that area, "Unless you change the flow, just putting in a bigger pipe isn’t going to change anything. Us poor suckers downstream, that’s not being taken care of. What you guys are doing is picking the easy fix. You think that’s going to satisfy people? You’re picking 10 projects in Ramona; nine of the 10 of them—who cares?"
"Have you ever been to Ramona when it’s raining?" Jerry Berman asked the two men. "Have you been to this area? You’re working with outdated information."
Tesoro and Bowling said they have indeed been to Ramona and seen the flooding. They said the priority list is just a beginning, from a large scale overview of the watershed. The public's input is needed to fine tune it, they said.
Jerry Eckhart of Kelly Avenue gave his input.
"Too much water is coming in there. I’m not going to take any more of my yard being flooded and my neighbors’ yards being flooded. Who’s going to pay me for my money that I’ve had to put into all the damage to my property? Next time, I’m going to bring in a bunch of dirt and fill up my property and let all that water flow somewhere else."
Tesoro and Bowling encouraged residents to identify the areas of significant flooding on large maps at the back of the meeting room at the Community Center. After the meeting, the Bermans and Eckhart did so.
Tesoro explained that the ranking system has to do with public safety, environmental impacts, a cost/capacity benefit index, compatibility with county plans, multiple use, ease of implementation, financing and funding.
"A master drainage plan is a really large-scale way of looking things," Bowling said. "We’re looking at existing facilities and how much water is flowing down there." He said the public meeting would help them identify projects to look at in a more detailed level. "This is not final engineering."
Bob Hailey of the planning group asked, "If we only ranked this list by public safety, would we see the same list?"
"No," Tesoro said. "We want to look at all the criteria and weigh them all together."
"Have you looked at how upstream developments will affect downstream areas?" Richard Tomlinson, on the planning group, asked.
"Yes, we always look at the downstream and go up," Tesoro said.
Planning group member Kristi Mansolf commented, “I was just amazed, when I went down Kelly Avenue, that it just stayed flooded for a long time after it rained. Then I heard there used to be a lake there. So it makes sense to me, because we’ve removed all the permeable area. Denny’s is now there. Maybe it's just a cumulative effect from all these projects."
"A lake was filled in so obviously you have to say, 'Where’s the water going to go?'" said Jim Piva, planning group chairman.
Bowling commented that there are a lot of undeveloped lots in the Kelly Avenue area.
"If there’s existing ponding there, they’re going to have to take care of those problems. Stormwater regulations have changed, they’re a lot tougher now."
Paul Stykel on the planning group asked, "How many years before people see this kind of work done?"
"We look at the available funding, and secondly, if we have to look elsewhere for funding, we apply for grants," Tesoro said. "We’ll do that over and over again until we’re successful. If we have the resources now, we’ll move forward with it. There’s not an exact timeline on it. We turn over every rock to find funds. Transportation funds—usually we partner with them."
Stykel asked whether homeowners can push the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or help the county get FEMA funding.
"It’s competitive in nature," Tesoro said. "What does help is congressional support. There’s nothing that says you can’t talk to your congressman. It’s a federal grant. Maybe that’s an avenue that the community can take."
Piva asked whether there was something at the planning group level that members could do to help with the grants.
"Unfortunately at the federal level of grants, which is the largest source of funds, it’s pretty much set up for us to do it," Tesoro said, noting that there was a great deal of paperwork that needed to be completed for each application.
"Does population and number of households affected go into that equation?" Piva asked about the priority list. "Because there are some of these where maybe two households are affected. Secondly, how much money do you have? We know you have to split your money among other areas in the county. How much of a slice does Ramona get?"
"We look at adjacent watersheds and try to find out how many people would be impacted and that’s complex and it’s usually done at the next step in the engineering," Bowling said. "We typically don’t look at that at the master drainage plan level but we do in the engineering design level."
"There are two pots of money," Tesoro said. "The first is property taxes. That pot, because of propositions, is limited. There's not a lot of opportunity in that one. When a homeowner does a project like a patio, a portion of the fees that you pay goes toward projects in that drainage area and it stays in that area. So any development fees in Ramona go into drainage projects in Ramona."
However, he clarified, any funding obtained outside Ramona for drainage projects inside Ramona does not stay here if it's not used.
Eckhart said, "I’ve got just a bit of money left for one project and that’s to build a big wall and let it flow on down the road. You talk about the county not having enough money, I don’t either."
Tesoro explained changes in regulations designed to mitigate flooding in the future.
"What is required now is that if you add concrete, you have to install a place to store the water underground. With new developments, they cannot add any more water than is there now."
Bowling said, "They have to hold that water until the storm is over or percolate it underground. We are going to have to come up with a plan to convey the water coming through this area. There are a number of properties that get inundated."
Linda Berman said, "I’m just concerned that the environmental conditions are going to be a problem."
Rick Engineering staff provided residents with handouts about some of the relevant agencies that enforce environmental regulations: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Fish and Game.
Patch asked Bowling after the meeting what he thought of the turnout.
“I think it’s great,” he said, in spite of the fact that about eight residents came.
"Well, flood control isn’t very interesting until it’s raining,” he said with a smile.
The meeting was at 7 p.m. at the Community Center on Aqua Lane. Dennis Sprong, Torrey Brean, Angus Tobiason, Chris Anderson, Matt Deskovick and Chad Anderson of the planning group were not present.