By Rea Stowell
Ramona: Living in the Valley of the Sun
Ramona, also referred to as “The Valley of the Sun,” is a small unincorporated community in Southern California. More than 30,000 people have made this town their home, partly due to its unique location. Ramona is about 30 minutes from Julian, which tends to get a lot of snow in the colder months. It is also about a 30 minute drive from neighboring cities, such as Poway and Escondido. Most local beaches are about an hour drive, as is downtown San Diego and the U.S./Mexico border. Residents say they can literally have it all- snow, surf, city and more.
Lots of land
Other than the suburban feel Ramona has, there is also countryside. Many people have moved here because of the abundant amount of land they can own. Some families run their businesses off of their property. They have farms, orchards, dairies, ranches, and even emu farms.
The Pluss family have lived in Ramona for almost 20 years. In 1995, they began raising emus. Tyler Pluss works with his family on their emu farm in the outskirts of Ramona. They have 10 acres of land and house about 500 emus. The emus are used for the oil they produce.
“Emu oil can be used for a number of things,” Pluss said. “It can relieve sunburns, sore muscles, scars, rashes, burns, and can also keep your skin looking younger and healthy.”
The Pluss family got lucky during the Cedar and Witch Creek fires. Because of their location, which is northeast of town where a lot of land is, the fires were a threat to their home and emus. But not only did their house survive, but they also didn’t lose any emus to the fires.
“They are some tough birds,” Pluss said.
Tyler’s brother Travis also works on the emu farm. Travis has lived in Ramona since he was five and talks about the other aspects of what it’s like to live there.
San Diego Country Estates Association
About 10 minutes east from the center of town lies the San Diego Country Estates, a subdivision of Ramona. Janice Baldridge has lived in the Country Estates for 36 years. She is also the editor of the San Vicente Valley News, a newspaper which is specifically written for the estates community.
“The San Vicente Valley News was implemented 19 years ago to communicate the financials to homeowners,” Baldridge said. “It has evolved into a resource for articles and pictures about what is going on in the community.”
Baldridge said while the country estates were originally thought to be a retirement community.
But it now supports two elementary schools “within the 3,000 plus acre piece of breathtaking country,” Baldridge said.
There are many reasons why people choose to live in the estates.
“Golfers love San Vicente Golf Course, hikers love the myriad of trails right out their back door and we can’t leave out the horse enthusiasts that keep both of our equestrian centers at capacity,” Baldridge said.
But those aren’t the only reasons.
“The people who have chosen and are choosing SDCEA to be their home is for the overall community,” she said.
Coming home to Ramona
Brynne Plett has lived many places, including Poway, Ramona, and even Grand Junction in Colorado. She said even though she originally grew up in Escondido, Ramona always felt like home to her.
“I was always moving around. But every time I came back to Ramona, I felt like I was escaping the rest of the world. That especially felt like the case when I worked down the hill. I could leave it all behind by coming home.”
Plett said while she felt restless living in Ramona when she was younger, she’s realized it’s the kind of place she would want to settle down.
“It’s safe and quiet. Everybody knows one another and people here all give each other a hand. It really feels like a big family.”
Ramona Municipal Water District
Another unique aspect about Ramona is that its main governing body is the Ramona Municipal Water District. Not only is the district involved in making sure the town has water, but it also runs the fire department, parks and recreation, and wastewater operations.
An interesting fact about Ramona’s water is that it’s transported from the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, which is near Lake Poway. Because the water needs to be pumped uphill and to town for people to receive it, the cost can run quite high.
The general population relies on most of this water as do the many farm and ranch owners. However, some of Ramona’s population are able to survive on well water which comes in handy during emergency situations.