Planning Board Listens to Residents, Votes Against Evacuation Route Lighting

A motion to eliminate proposed lighting near the Ramona Grasslands passed at the Dec. 6 meeting.

After hearing the pleas of residents for no lighting along the proposed evacuation route, the Ramona Community Planning Group voted unanimously against the item at last week's monthly meeting at the library.

Lighting was offered up by San Diego Gas and Electric as a free service along the route, which would carry traffic from state Route 67 along an unpaved road for about a half-mile across property just north of the Ramona Airport owned by the Ramona Municipal Water District. The route dumps onto Highland Valley Road, which runs west into Rancho Bernardo (see attached map).

SDG&E has offered to pay for and install three low-pressure sodium lights placed on poles along Rangeland Road and before the gate at Highland Hills to help light the way, but residents said they were unnecessary.

During last month's public tour of the route, resident Carol Angus said heavy smoke from potential fires mixed with the lights would make visibility almost nonexistent and suggested delineators instead.

At the Dec. 6 planning group meeting, Angus spoke up again on behalf of the new bald eagles found on the preserve near the proposed route.

"The Wildlife Research Institute has discovered bald eagles... the first ever here," Angus said. "No disturbance should happen there during nesting season. I hope the Ramona Community Planning Group supports no lighting."

Another resident at the meeting, Rick Morgal, is an advocate for the animals of the grasslands, which could potentially be at-risk if lights are installed along the route.

"A lot of rodents are affected by lighting. We're making it easier for rodents to get caught," Morgal said.

Morgal also said that the lights would be turned off during a fire, as SDG&E shuts down power during high-risk times, thus defeating the purpose of the lamps.

"I see the Ramona Community Planning Group as a main ally" in protecting the grasslands, Morgal said.

Kevin Wallace made a motion to eliminate the need for proposed lighting completely. Bob Haily seconded the motion.

But Carl Hickman, who works for the county, introduced an "interesting compromise."

"Lights can be turned on by a switch from whomever opens the gate," Hickman said. "When they're needed, they can be turned on.

Member Scotty Ensign liked the idea of delineators and reflectors to help guide the cars in the night, if needed.

The motion to eliminate the lights passed, with Hickman and Angus Tobiason opposing.

What do you think of the lights? Do you agree with the board's decision to eliminate the need for them? Tell us in the comments.

Jolinda December 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Please leave that chunk of land alone. Even the eagles voted for its natural and healthy environment. Residents don't need anything to get down a very easy road.
Joe Minervini December 11, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Reflectors are the best solution. When a few thousand cars are trying to find a route thru grassland in the dark of night with 60 mph winds at their back, the road may not be so "very easy." I hope any traffic enforcement along the route stay inside their cars. Joe Minervini


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