Ramona planning group supports community services district to strengthen local control


The Ramona Community Planning Group has expressed support for a recommendation by the Local Agency Training Commission to increase local control by creating a community service district.

At the planning group meeting on September 2, members said they would write a letter to the Local Agency Training Commission (LAFCO) and vote on whether to officially support the replacement or modernization of the water district. Ramona City Council by a community service district at their October 7 meeting. .

LAFCO staff made the first recommendation at the August 5 planning group meeting. The move would move Ramona from an unincorporated county-run town to a community overseen by a community service district. The recommendation will be reviewed by the LAFCO Commission in San Diego on October 4.

Even though the planning group’s letter would be sent after the LAFCO commission meeting, members can still influence the decision, said planning group chairman Robin Joy Maxson.

The move, which is based on Ramona’s growing population and the trend towards urbanization, would bring Ramona closer to incorporation and full autonomy, LAFCO officials said.

LAFCO has the power to create and expand cities and special districts in the 58 counties of the state.

Casey Lynch, a member of the planning group, said those who support more local control would prefer a community service district, which could replace the district’s water authority on water provision, intervention in emergency fire and medical care, as well as parks and recreation services. A community service district would also have control over libraries, road improvements, street lighting and other services.

“A lot of things have to happen for a government to be formed,” Lynch said. “It’s a prelude to Ramona becoming his own agency. Could this happen? Probably, but not in our lifetime.

Lynch said he favored a community service district in part so he could access more tax funding. He said that although Ramona paid the county-wide TransNet sales tax of half a cent, the community received little of its funding.

Torry Brean, a member of the planning group, said small communities in the Santa Ynez Community Service District, which include Solvang, Buellton and Los Olivos, are reaping the benefits of increased local control with attractive landscaping, passageways textured pedestrian for safe street crossings and community events. The creation of a district would allow a wider range of authorities than the water district currently has, he said.

“I am in favor of exploring this further,” said Brean. “This recommendation is based on the LAFCO report. If we go ahead, we may need to have a people’s vote. “

It is not clear whether the Ramona Municipal Water District will be elevated to a community service district or that a whole new community service district will be formed, Maxson said.

“Does the community of Ramona decide by vote or is it decided elsewhere and then applied to our community? ” she said. “These are important details to have that could affect whether or not people support a community service district.

“I looked at other community service districts to see if there had been any complaints and I didn’t see people outraged by this level of government running them.

Planning group member Kevin Wallace was the only member to oppose the idea.

“I think it’s an intrusion,” Wallace said. “I am absolutely against the growth of Ramona. I am against incorporation.

Maxson said the letter that will be drafted at the next planning group meeting could include questions about the nuts and bolts of forming a community service district. She said she wanted to encourage Ramona residents to attend the meeting to express their support or opposition to the recommendation.

In another action, members of the planning group allowed Lynch to represent the group at the county supervisory board meeting on October 6, where supervisors will consider an ordinance allowing retail, cultivation, manufacturing, etc. distribution and testing of cannabis.

Lynch, who chairs the group’s ad hoc cannabis ordinance committee, said several cannabis proposals would likely be approved by supervisors. These include authorizing recreational sales of marijuana rather than requiring a medical card, authorizing the sale of edible and drinkable products, authorizing the sale of branded merchandise and authorizing the transfer of business licenses.

However, he said he would like to speak against planning elements that would reduce community oversight of projects. These include exempting cannabis companies from community design reviews that help maintain and enhance the character and identity of communities, exempting them from community reviews meant to protect scenic corridors and allowing cannabis businesses to expand up to 10,000 square feet with just a ministerial building permit that can be approved by planning department staff if a project is in compliance with zoning standards rather than a thorough review.

“The planning elements are what I would really like to represent ourselves on,” Lynch said. “If you provide me with your comments, I will bring them to the meeting. “

In addition, Dan Summers, a member of the planning group, briefed the group on the progress made in securing a third ambulance to serve the community of Ramona. He said that when the ambulances in Fire Halls 80 and 81 are busy answering calls, a third ambulance is sometimes called for the rescue service of communities such as Warner Springs, Julian, Barona and Poway.

Summers said the Third Ad Hoc Ambulance Committee he chairs coordinates efforts with Cal Fire, San Diego County, Supervisor Joel Anderson and the Third Ad Hoc Ambulance Committee of the Ramona Municipal Water District. .

“We made a strong case to add a third advanced resuscitation ambulance to Ramona,” Summers said, adding that if a third ambulance was approved, it would be located at Fire Station 82. “That issue is how it is. will work with County, Water District and Cal Fire.

Summers also provided updates on two road improvement projects. Caltrans plans to start a project to widen the shoulder to Mina de Oro and National Road 67 this month, and could potentially add a third lane there, he said.

Summers, who chairs the group’s Ramona State Routes subcommittee, said a major SR-67 resurfacing project from Lakeside to 10th Street in Ramona is still on track with an estimated start date of April 2022, according to the continuation of the application process. Caltrans was successful in securing approval from 75% of homeowners along the highway in Ramona for road crews to have access to their properties for soil samples and other work related to this project, he said. -he declares.

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