By America Barcelo Feldman
The community of Ramona has organized (RCAA) Ramona Citizens Against the Airport to fight against the construction proposal for the new International Airport in this small valley located between the mountains of the Northern county of San Diego.
With this coalition “Saving Ramona, Not the Airport”, residents of this small rural community of the north county have organized a protest against a possible move of Lindbergh Field Airport. Even though this plan is only a proposal, Ramona is 1 of the 18 possibilities; the residents do not want this proposal to continue.
For the last two months they have organized themselves and worked to collect signatures from the community involved, to push the authorities and the commission involved in this project to delete Ramona from the list.
The (ATAP) Air Transportation Action Program is the committee in charge of researching the possible spots to find an alternate site to move the Lindbergh Field Airport. This commission is integrated by authorities of County of San Diego including: Congressman Duncan Hunter; State Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts (representing ATAP of County of San Diego); Mayor of Escondido Lori Pfelier (ATAP North County); Mayor of La Mesa Art Madrid (ATAP East County); Mayor of Oceanside Terry Johnson (North County); Mayor of Chula Vista Shirley Horton (ATAP South County); Member of Municipal Government of City of San Diego Byron Wear (ATAP Central County); and Authorities from Regional Airport Thella Bow-ens and Ted Anasis.
It is with this committee that the residents of Ramona have directed their voices to try and stop this project and convince the ATAP to remove Ramona’s name from the 18 alternatives as a site for the airport.
County Supervisor and ATAP commission member Dianne Jacob has joined in the fight to save Ramona.
Jacob assumed the post of commanding chief of this committee July 27 at a plenary gathering at which more or less 250 residents of this community attended to discuss possible new ways to fight.
Jacob promised to initiate a hard battle until Ramona is completely eliminated from the list; promised to participate more as a leader towards this battle; “it’s clear that the people of Ramona have declared war against an international airport in this city, and it’s clear that every war needs a commander in chief; I will try to lead them in this battle to try to win it” she said to residents who applauded (Ramona Sentinel August 4, 2002).
In addition, she made a point to provide strategies to convince the regional airport authorities of not including Ramona in this list of potential cities for the project of the new airport.
One of the leading activists and founders of the (RCAA) Ramona Citizens Against the Airport Jeff Gan, real estate agent and resident of Ramona since 1978, affirmed that: “We will not let them destroy the life of our small and peaceful community”. In an interview during the participation of RCAA in the Ramona Annual Fair that took place 1 - 4 August. Gan assured the community that Ramona would not let their city be affected by this ridiculous project, which will only destroy our peaceful living.
“We will not let the City of San Diego come and ruin our way of living, only because of the poor planning authorities have”.
Residents of this peaceful community think that the construction of this airport, far from benefiting this community will only bring more disadvantages not only for Ramona residents, whose farm-like life would end, but also would completely change the view not only for Ramona but also for the neighboring communities such as Escondido and others.
Ramona is a community away from everything and it doesn’t have enough access roads and if the airport moves here they would have to build new roads, which would add to more vehicular traffic, smog, noise and naturally an increase in population. And this would simply put an end to the simple life of this city.
“If I wanted to live in an agitated city I would simply not live here in Ramona but in San Diego”, admitted Jeff Gan.
This is the reason why this committee actively participated in Ramona’s Annual Fair with only a small booth where they collected signatures as a way of support not only from the residents but visitors as well.
In addition, participants in the traditional march that is part of the community fair; marched along the principal avenue of Ramona as a sign of protest wearing a white shirt with a logo of an airplane in red which was blocked off as a sign of something prohibited which said “No to Ramona’s Airport”. RCAA also has a web page www.noairport.org, where they have been informing the community of their fight, which will not stop until Ramona is off the list, hoping to do this before November 2004 which is when the project will take place.
During the fair they collected 2500 signatures in only 2 days, and they will be forwarded to ATAP and airport authorities to try to persuade them to continue with this plan that makes no sense according to Gan. Especially within the 2020 plan, which had previously planed to construct new access roads and federal highways that would run from the center of San Diego directly there benefiting North County San Diego and Orange County residents. This plan did not include the construction of an airport.
“There is no reason to destroy the way of life of Ramona with this project that has no substantial base” continued Gan.
According to residents of this farm-like population, Ramona is a small valley based within the mountains east of north county, apart from all the noise of the city. “Ramona is a place where you can go horse back riding, see the stars twinkle at night in an atmosphere completely peaceful, a place where everybody know each other and take care of each other” pointed out Darla Grimworld (Ramona Sentinel August, 4, 2002.)
Even though allot of people have signed the petition against this proposal, the work of the committee has just begun and their is still much to do, and until they see that their name is off the list they will not go home; On the contrary, they will continue on the street collecting more signatures and informing everyone in the community that includes 15,000 residents.
Even though full participation from Ramona’s community was expected, it was found after a series of interviews that the actual participation from the Hispanic community was very minimum due to lack of knowledge of the problem at hand. RCAA will continue to meet every Saturday morning, which by the way is supported by Dianne Jacob.
This is how Ramona residents continue the fight to keep the airport as far away from their little city increasing their way of life such as the great cities, so that Ramona remains “The Sun Valley”, a place where families live in peace and tranquility.