Ramona Community Planning Group Chair Jim Piva announced last week that he was invited to be part of a four-seat "customer panel" by the San Diego County Department of Public Works and Planning and Development Services.
“What comes out of this panel will go toward the county on how they do business,” Piva told the planning group at the March 7 meeting in the Ramona Library. “It’s a big responsibility and I’m honored they even asked me.”
According to the county, the purpose of the panel is to help better understand the “people we service and to improve our service delivery,”
The county stated they chose the panel by inviting four members of the public with whom they "routinely interact." The panel will share their experience and views of working with the county.
Planning group member Jim Cooper said the frustration the group feels periodically should be expressed by Piva to the county during the meeting, which will take place on March 15.
“We work hard to represent the community… and yet we take our voices from the members of this community forward to the next two layers [with] not even a reasonable audience and discussion under way," Cooper said.
Piva said he gets three minutes to respond on each question asked.
Group member Dennis Sprong said the group has “really turned the corner in the past five years.”
“It sounds like we’re being recognized,” Sprong announced to the group. “Our voices may not be heard as loudly as we like, but at least they’re being heard.”
Richard Tomlinson warned Piva to "be ready," while member Carl Hickman, who works for the county, advised the group chair to speak clearly and carefully on each question asked.
“It's going to be very important you speak very well on whatever items you have to talk about… but be aware they might be trying to take away any power we may have,” Hickman told Piva.
Piva enforced the fact that he wanted the groups input on the questions he'll be asked and really wants “to make our wishes known to the county.”
“The fact that they extended the invitation to us speaks volumes,” the chair said. “This could change policy, I think we have a chance to get our voices heard.”
The group will present next month to the board to give highlights of the panel.