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Planning Group Chair Asks Water Board to Put Community First in Evacuation Route

The water board discussed a draft for an agreement between RMWD and the county for the proposed evacuation route.

Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva addressed the water board Tuesday afternoon on the hot topic of the emergency evacuation route, calling it another "tool" for the San Diego Sheriff's Department's "toolbox."

"The county has basically has jumped through hoops," Piva told the board. "And I think the water district, you guys have jumped through hoops."

Piva said that he understood that the board's priority was water district first, community second, but urged them to place Ramona at the top.

"I'd like you to look at it as you're Ramonans, we're here to serve to the community," he said.

The Ramona Municipal Water District brought forth the discussion of the proposed route to the water board so they can reach final negotiations with the county. Legal counsel advised the board to approve the county's request for self-insurance in lieu of third-party insurance for liability purposes.

Legal counsel informed the board that the county is asking that language in the original draft agreement stating for indemnification to the water district in the event people are unable to use the route for emergency evacuation be removed. Counsel asked the board not to accept the deletion of this clause.

An ad-hoc committee consisting of board president Bryan Wadlington and member Darrell Beck has been formed to prepare the draft agreement for public review.

The Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) is involved in the emergency evacuation route preparations because a 12-foot stretch of the proposed route falls on RWMD property.

Beck said he wasn't fond of the proposed route, noting that all it does is take you back to SR 67.

"The idea is well-intended," Beck said at the meeting. "But it doesn't make too much sense to me."

Water District General Manager David Barnum said there are lots of things to consider with the route–overhead lines, maintenance of the route, endangered kangaroo rats and more.

"We don't have all the answers," Barnum said, suggesting the ad-hoc committee review the subject and make a recommendation.

Piva told the board he hoped this was the last hurdle.

"Let's not make this more complicated than it is," he said. "Let's put this to bed and get this done."

The motion to accept the staff recommendation to review the draft agreement between the district and the county was passed 4-0, with Director Kit Kesinger absent.

The public is invited to take a tour of the proposed route on Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m.

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