Health

Board Approves Expansion of Ramona Center for People with Head Injuries

The County Board of Supervisors approved expanding a long-term residential care home in Ramona for people with severe brain injuries Wednesday in a 3-2 vote.

The County Board of Supervisors approved expanding a long-term residential care home in Ramona for people with severe brain injuries Wednesday in a 3-2 vote.

Each member of the Board said they felt the Highland Valley Ranch group care facility provided an important service. But the Board as a whole disagreed whether the 10-year phased expansion — from 13 patients to potentially 52 patients — fit in Ramona’s rural residential community.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose second supervisorial district includes the Ramona area where Highland Valley is located, said she “regretfully” opposed the expansion. The expansion was previously approved by the San Diego County Planning Commission, but the community planning group and surrounding neighbors appealed to the Board to overturn the decision.

Jacob said Wednesday that the County could not make the legal findings to support the project because, among other reasons, it did not fit the community’s character and because its plan to include a private waste-water treatment plant violated the guiding principles of the County’s new general plan.

Supervisor Pam Slater-Price supported Jacobs’ opposition, saying that the project was “meritorious,” but too large for the area. Highland Valley’s plan would increase the size of its buildings from 13,000 square feet to 36,000 square feet.

However, Board Chairman Ron Roberts and supervisors Greg Cox and Bill Horn supported the expansion, saying the project’s good outweighed concerns.

Cox said that although Highland Valley’s building “footprint” would nearly triple in size, it would be on a 25-acre piece of land.

Horn said the County had previously approved the creation or modification of similar projects that helped people with problems — including Casa de Amparo, a youth center in Twin Oaks Valley near San Marcos in 2009 — despite community opposition. Horn said those projects became good neighbors despite initial concerns.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact