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Ramona Emergency Evacuation Route Called Easy, ‘Can’t-Miss’ in Tour

One resident called the disputed proposed route “a start,” but said more options are needed.

With a horse trailer hitched to the back of his truck, Jim Piva led 15 people on a caravan tour Thursday morning of the proposed emergency evacuation route for Ramona.

“I want people to see it’s possible to take this route with a trailer,” said Piva, chairman of the Ramona Community Planning Group.

Mike Robinson, deputy director of the county Department of Public Works, said signs would go up in the grasslands to clearly mark the way for evacuating cars.

Robinson, also a traffic engineer, said it would be be easy for people to follow and there would be no “conflicting traffic.”

“Once one car goes, everybody goes,” Robinson said. “It will be a ‘can’t-miss’ kind of a thing.”

County officials joined them on the controversial route, as well as planning group candidate Jim Cooper and Ramona Municipal Water District General Manager David Barnum.

The proposed route, which Chief for the Department of Parks and recreation Trish Boaz said is approximately six miles long, consists of a 12-foot-wide dirt path that runs along Montecito Way, through a half-mile stretch of Ramona Municipal Water District spray field property and dumps onto Rangeland Road.

Barnum told Patch that using RMWD property isn’t the hindrance in getting the evacuation route approved.

“The issue is broader than the use of property,” he said.

Barnum said that evacuees may dismiss the proposed route and head onto RMWD spray field property, possibly ruining spray cannons, which may be hard to see in the dark.

“Without spray cannons, we most likely would not be able to operate the Santa Maria Wastewater Plant,” Barnum said.

The water district general manager also said that if the proposed RMWD land is used for the route, additional spray field land might have to be purchased, costing the ratepayers.

A small portion of the proposed route is also on the protected grasslands. The county has approved the small stretch of land to be used in case of emergencies.

Piva mentioned to the public tour that SDG&E has offered to put up three lights on their poles near the RMWD stretch of the route.

While the gesture seems both generous and effective, Ramona resident Carol Angus voiced her opposition, saying heavy smoke and lights make visibility almost nonexistent.

“What works best is delineators or something in the road that can guide the way,” Angus said, telling the crowd that reflective paint is what helped her family evacuate five years ago in the Witch Creek Fire.

Piva said the county would never approve something that wasn’t safe—and if smoke, lights and low visibility were an issue, delineators could be put up.

Piva also said SDG&E has agreed to move any power poles that are obstructing the route on RMWD property.

Maria Biondo Longton, another resident who took the tour, ,said this evacuation route was really just an illusion.

“What we really need is another way out besides 67,” she said. “What’s going to happen to all of us from Rangeland and Highland Valley when we get to 67 at Archie Moore Road?”

Longton said she’d like to see an alternative way out that doesn’t dump evacuees back onto the 67.

The current proposed route gives residents of north Ramona three options for evacuation:

  • Montecito Way to Rangeland Road to SR 67
  • Montecito Way to Rangeland Road, right onto Highland Valley Road and onto Escondido
  • Montecito Way to Rangeland Road, right onto Highland Valley Road, merge onto Archie Moore Road and then back on SR 67

“It’s a start.” Longton told Patch. “I think we need more evacuation options.”

Joe Minervini November 02, 2012 at 02:17 PM
If one would google Mapquest and go to the satellite view of the Ramona airport, they would see the west terminus of Montecito Road on the North side of the airport. If one then looks due west, one would see open field and then, just East of Rangeland, there is another piece of Montecito Rd connected to Rangeland. Evidently, at one time, Montecito Road was designed to connect Main St. to Rangeland Road. I don't know the whole history of why Montecito Road was not a thru street from Main to Rangeland....does anybody out there know the history ? One of the RMWD people talked about the County vacating of some property which could've been used for a better evac route.....? Can anyone explain this further ? Joe Minervini....in the phone book
Robert Krysak November 02, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I applaud the efforts of those who pursued this alternate route, but I am cautiously pessimistic that it will resolve the issue. The route's terminus is Highway 67 or Highland Valley Road. Dumping onto Highway 67 will create greater congestion at that intersection on a route which will already be choked with evacuees, I believed exasperating not relieving the congestion on Highway 67. Highland Valley Road is certainly not an optimum evacuation route and any travel on that route will be slowed by the configuration of the road, I believe backing up very quickly. This is but one more tool in a global tool chest. In conjunction with this, I believe that we need to develop some in-community evacuation options for residents, promote effective shelter-in-place and develop centralized equipped evacuation centers. This is especially important given that large swaths of this community have indicated that they will not evacuate. By developing such a multi-pronged approach, those who elect to remain in town will be safe and, in turn, will relieve some of the pressue on the evacuation routes for those who choose to evacuate.
SMOKEY THE FRIENDLY BEAR November 02, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Hello, Monticito is how we supply the Ramona Airport and Fire Attack Airbase. That cannot happen when the road is packed with cars going 3MPH. For Example...those big aircraft that help put fires out, need A LOT of material and people. Depending on the emergency, Monticito may be closed or detoured for the public and open for emergency vehicles only. BTW I know a littttttle bit about fire and if cars go out into the grass lands that will probably cause more fires...makes sense, right? Smokey says "Fire BAD" soooo if the grass around the airport catches on fire than we are not attacking fires, we are defending the airport. If we lose that fight ... again, "Fire BAD". Respectfully, this idea needs some more work. If folks are not careful this local election year gimmick could be a massive cluster. Thank you and please remember "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires"
SMOKEY THE FRIENDLY BEAR November 02, 2012 at 05:14 PM
rmwd board director Darel Beck is the towns historian. good man
Torry Brean November 02, 2012 at 06:53 PM
My understanding is that there were three main obstacles blocking the connection of Montecito and Rangeland. When first discussed, the residents along Archie Moore and Highland Valley mounted a very successful campaign against the idea. Second, when the Nature Conservancy took over the grasslands they turned it into deeded open space, and refused to allow any roads to be built. Finally the airport said the FAA was requiring them to get the road vacated, as they could not develop the airport when the map showed a road going through the middle of it. The planning group objected to the entire history of Montecito Road, and asked the county what the people of Ramona would get in exchange for vacating that segment of road (which could not be built anyway). County staff agreed to work with Ramonans to develop an emergency rout a little farther North. There was great skepticism at the time over whether they would come through on their promise, but they did. I think Ramona was robbed by loosing a full road through this area, but I also know that any connection from Montecito to Rangeland would be met by fierce opposition.
thinkaboutit November 02, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Mr. Brean, Respectfully "The planning group objected to the entire history of Montecito Road" is a little misleading. It is my understanding that in 1991 the Montecito project was approved by the RCPG with a secondary road access from Montecito Road to Rangeland. In 2006 the RCPG passed a motion to vacate that portion of Montecito Road. In April 2009 a motion was presented by Jim Piva to approve the proposed General Plan Amendment and vacation of Montecito Road. The motion was passed 8-4, with planning group members Chad Anderson, Torry Brean, Dennis Grimes and Angus Tobiason casting dissenting votes. It seems the RCPG has twice approved vacating Montecito Road, not opposed it. Sadly after all of these years, Mrs. Maria Longton is correct "this evacuation route is really just an illusion". The same path that is now being called an evacuation route has been there for nearly 100 years. Nothing new has been created and the existing dirt path will not be improved.
Torry Brean November 02, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Thinkaboutit, I believe you make a fair point. I guess what I am trying to say is that the vote to vacate was made from down the barrel of a gun. The county bureaucrats showed up in force to insist that the vacation was inevitable, and the only option available. It was a Sophie's choice kind of scenario. Vote for the vacation and maybe get an evacuation route to the north, or vote against it and the road will still be vacated by the planning commissioners and we get nothing in return. I was against the vacation, but I understand why the others voted the way they did.
walter A cranky ramonan November 03, 2012 at 03:51 AM
smokey , i couldnt agree more , people lose their minds in a emerengcy sit. this is a "smokescreen" for something else, i just havent figured it out yet. what happens when a car stalls on the 12 foot road ? what happens when there is a TC at 67 or one headed down highland valley . this whole thing is a bad idea and it makes no sense at all BTW lets not forget about the car with a bad cat converter driving thru dry grass !
greg Chick November 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I used to have a SANDAG calendar that had road improvements planned. This calendar had a legend box having dashed lines, bold dashed lines etc. There was a full size road planned from 67 at Highland, across all the way to Espola Rd. in Poway connecting at about where Espola has big westward turn to go straight alignment with RB rd. I am not suggesting we do this, I am suggesting this issue has history and funding that is forgotten. Easements existed, plans were made, calendar was printed having such documents reference. Does anyone have this calendar still?. It was around mid to late 90's. Once again, I am not suggesting a highway thru Green Valley Truck Trail, I am looking for history planning documents . Greg Chick.

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