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RCPG Candidate Forum: How Do You Hope to Retain Ramona's Character During Growth?

Each week leading up to elections, we'll post one question from the RCPG candidate forum and each present candidates response.

The Ramona Equine Industry Network (REIN) hosted a forum on Sept. 19 at the Community Center to allow the public to hear from the Ramona Community Planning Group candidates and their stance on hot-button issues.

Each week leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, Ramona Patch will post one of the questions asked at the forum, along with each of the present candidate's responses.

Keep a look out each week to see what the group hopefuls had to say on things like vineyards, the equine industry and road safety issues.

You've got a taste of what the planning group hopefuls thought of Ramona's ever-growing grape industry and their vision for safety on Highway 67.

This week, we take a glance at Ramona's rural character and thoughts on preservation.

How do you hope to retain Ramona's character during growth?

Jim Cooper: "It's part of the reason I'm on the design review board," he said, noting that growth in Ramona is inevitable. Cooper stressed that he wants input from the community, calling it "vital" and saying growth in town needs to carry its own weight.

Barbara Jensen: Jensen called for a balance between growth in Ramona and rural character.

Jim Piva: "Ramona has a community plan," Piva said. "It's well-thought out." Piva said he shot down the idea of the Target center for Ramona and is currently fighting the solar farm on Warnock because it "doesn't fit our community plan." Piva said we need to "stick to the plan" when it comes to growth.

Richard Tomlinson: "The County's vision is different from Ramona's vision," Tomlinson said. "Any growth needs to match the character of what we have here."

Torry Brean: "I believe in supporting the community plan," incumbent Brean said, agreeing with Piva. "I'm really big on supporting small businesses in town."

Robin Joy Maxson: Maxson said the town needs to "maintain rural character."

Kathy DaSilva: DaSilva agreed with Piva, calling it "imperative" that the town maintain the "rural character that all the residents come here for."

Joe Minervini October 18, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Then why did previous Planning Group members, some of which made statements above, vote to approve a 417 home clustered home development called "Montecito Ranch." And also a 125 clustered home development called the "Cumming Ranch" ? I would prefer each new home being on a minimum 2 acre lot. I think that's more rural than what some of the above people wish we believe. My votes are for Cooper, Da Silva, Donna Meyers and Robin Maxson. They are rural. Joe Minervini
Jolinda October 18, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Thanks for the great and useful comment. These are the specific pieces of information which I mentioned were missing from last week's poll...and again this week as well. I wonder about the thinking which supported Cummings Ranch, which brings many negatives to Ramona not to mention 125 houses directly feeding into our worst intersection, where traffic congestion is backed up 43 cars (I counted) in the morning. This is NOT thoughtful growth, IMO. Where are our citizen comments?
Jane Tanaka MD October 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
For those candidates who used the term "rural character," what do you envision as "rural" ? .... "sparsely populated" " agriculcutural" or "bucolic " or "rustic and charming" ? Jimmy, you are right that the Planning Group needs to have respect for the County in order to advocate for Ramona.... but can a town maintain "rural character" and have the respect of the County of SD, and not be treated as a hick step-child whose life and death needs ( highway 67 mortalities) are neglected or just given PR smoozing?
Torry Brean October 18, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Just my two cents, but I don't think "rural" means stopping all growth. You can't reject a project on the grounds of, "we don't want more houses" when the zoning allows for it. The county would be sued, and they would just ignore the planning groups even more. I think keeping Ramona rural means making sure that growth occurs in a way that allows the continuation of a rural lifestyle. For me, that means larger lots. This is why I voted against Monticello; 1/3 acre lots in an area zoned for 2 acres just is not rural. Initially, the Cummings ranch was as close to rural as you could get (since the County requires clustering) and we were getting 1.5 acre lots spread out around the property. As the Cumming development kept going through the county planning process, the lots got smaller and more compacted; I personally no longer support it. I would advise against electing "no growth" planners like some of the names mentioned above, group just as vehemently as I would advise against electing a "pro grown" planning group. Moderation and reasonable advice to the county is the only way we can have any impact.
Jolinda October 18, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Thank you so much Torry for taking the time to elaborate on your viewpoints - all very reasonable, if you ask me. And how can we STOP the County from taking a project initially approved with 1/5 acre lots and making them smaller and more compact, as they did with Cummings Ranch? And then there's the congestion issue - to me that's not a logical (or attractive) location to bring in 125 more houses. Jane, I would love to meet you one day as I always love your comments!
Torry Brean October 19, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Thank YOU Jolinda! I think the problem largely lies with our elected officials at the State and County levels. Clustering, and other aspects of "Smart Growth," are quite en vogue with city planners. From their perspective, clustering protects open space, reduces infrastructure (like roads and pipes), and cuts back on carbon emissions (because everyone lives closer together and with greater access to public transportation). That all may sound wonderful for a bureaucrat that was born and raised in the city, but it does not fit Ramona at all. Clustering does not take into account increased risk of fire (you can't cut brush in open space), problems with sewer (no septic system on small lots), or community character issues. This is being forced on Ramona from people who have never lived here. I used to think incorporation was the solution, but it is simply not financially feasible. The planning group has started to make some progress fighting this with the county, but the RCPG lacks authority and, until very recently, a unified voice. We need to change the thinking in Sacremento, and in San Diego, if Ramona's character is to be protected. Only our votes can do that.
Torry Brean October 19, 2012 at 03:12 AM
*Montecito (Not Monticello, I have nothing Thomas Jefferson's home)

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