By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office
The County Board of Supervisors took a step last Wednesday toward the possibility of building a safe parking area for thousands of hikers who park and traipse dangerously close to traffic along Highway 67 in Ramona to get to Mount Woodson and the popular Potato Chip Rock trail.
The Board voted to buy 84 acres of land near the area for $1.7 million Wednesday.
Part of the land could be used to build a parking lot, or as a connection to a currently inaccessible 18-acre parcel the County already owns where a lot might be built.
Hikers have been flocking to unincorporated Ramona for years to get to the eastern access for Potato Chip Rock trail, which is located on land owned and operated by the City of San Diego. Because there is no off-road parking, visitors now park along both shoulders of state Route 67, then walk alongside and even run across the highway’s 60-mph traffic.
With the Board’s approval to buy the land, County staff will begin design work, conduct an environmental analysis to determine what improvements can be made and return to the Board in the future with recommendations. County staff is also in conversations with City of San Diego staff regarding operating the area once improvements are made.
In addition to the possibility of providing safer access and potential parking, the 84-acre property includes moderate to very high-quality environmental habitat, including chamise chaparral, oak woodland and coastal sage scrub.
County officials said most of the habitat is located within the County’s Pre-Approved Mitigation Area of its Multiple Species Conservation Program’s (MSCP) North County Plan and could be added to the MSCP reserve.
Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office.