The Santa Maria Land & Water Company called its project "Ramona". When the name of the town changed from Nuevo to Ramona is subject to dispute. In The Glory Years, by Frank F. Pourade (1964, Copley Press, republished by the San Diego Historical Society), the author indicates that the Santa Maria Land & Water Company syndicate changed the name in 1886. However, the San Diego City and County Directory for 1886-87 lists the town as Nuevo. And the Ramona Town Hall website says this concerning the dedication of the building:
It was donated to the towns people of Nuevo, on Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1894, by Augustus and Martha Barnett. Later that year, at the insistence of Milton Santee, the town was renamed Ramona, to capitalize on the popularity of the fictional character from the best seller by Helen Hunt Jackson.
Concerned about the plight of native Americans in southern California (and elsewhere), and inspired by her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona was published in November, 1884. It was an instant success.
The Ramona Town Hall, now 113 years old, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. It has also been known as Town Hall of Nuevo, and Barnett Hall. The Hall was built on two lot donated by Milton Santee, who as noted above headed up the Santa Maria Land & Water Company syndicate. Augustus and Martha Barnett donated the $17,000 "to the towns people of Nuevo, on Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1894." Ramona Town Hall was designed by architect William S. Hebbard, who later, with his partner, Irving Gill, "produced San Diego's best architecture until its break up in 1907". The building is one of the largest, and oldest, adobe structures in southern California. Photographs of William Hebbard and Ramona Town Hall may be viewed on this San Diego Historical Society page, and on the Ramona Town Hall website
As noted in this Ramona Home Journal article:
In the past, the Town Hall was home to Ramona’s first high school. Classes met upstairs from 1894 to 1898. The town’s first bank and first library also started in the building, and several religious groups met there before their churches were built.
Other organizations that met in the Town Hall included Ramona Grange, Santa Maria Masonic Lodge, Ramona Pioneer Historical Society, Ramona Chamber of Commerce, Ramona Art Guild, Town Hall Players and Ramona Council of Arts, Unlimited.
The Town Hall was used as a theater in the 1940s, with Harry Miles running the movie projector. It also was known as the community dance hall and the site of costume balls.
The Cedar Fire began in Ramona approximately east of the San Diego Country Estates area, on October 25, 2003. The fire would eventually consume 280,278 acres (1,134 km²), burn 2,820 buildings (including 2,232 homes), and take 15 lives. The Cedar Fire is the largest fire in California history.
The Witch Fire began near Ramona near the area called Witch Creek on October 21, 2007. As of October 24th, it had burned approximately in San Diego County with over 640 homes destroyed, 250 damaged, and 12 firefighters injured according to the San Diego Union Tribune. Actual damage to the city of Ramona is unknown as of October 24 as the roads into the town are closed. On October 24th the Witch Fire merged with another fire called the Poomacha which had originated in the area of the La Jolla Indian Reservation. Along with more than 10 other fires burning in San Diego County at the same time, the Witch-Poomacha fire helped cause the largest mandatory evacuations in U.S. history, with over 500,000 people displaced as of October 24th.
On January 2006, Ramona Valley was designated the country's 162nd American Viticultural Area (AVA) by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which recognized the area for its distinctive microclimate, elevation, and soil attributes.
...a multi-level, twenty-seven room (five bedroom, four bath), home complete with four to eight foot thick walls, a 72'x16' living room, a sixteen foot ceiling, a sitting room, swing porch, pantry, four fireplaces, a Dutch oven, dumb waiter, complete intercom system and a gasoline-engine-assisted windmill...
Building materials of the main house included eucalyptus, oak and redwood, rocks and flagstone, adobe, bricks and tiles, plaster, concrete and stucco. Eucalyptus was cut from stands that dotted the property. Rocks were individually hand picked by Mrs. Strong for their shapes and colors from the slopes of Mt. Woodson and were carried to the building site by a horse drawn sled designed especially for the job...
The Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) is Ramona's local agency (within its boundaries) for water and sewer service, fire protection, paramedic services, and parks. The RMWD contracts with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to operate the Ramona Fire Department The RMWD is governed by a five member elected Board of Directors.
In the area of Ramona outside and east of the Ramona Municipal Water District, fire protection and paramedic service is provided by the InterMountain Fire - Rescue Department It operates as a California 501c(3) non-profit corporation, and up to 9 people sit on its Board of Directors. Portions of Ramona, notably the Barona Mesa area adjacent to San Diego Country Estates, are under the jurisdiction of the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District (View its District map).
With one exception, public schools in Ramona are operated by the Ramona Unified School District, which is governed by an elected five person Board of Trustees. The exception is Sun Valley Charter High School Although its charter was approved by the RUSD, it is governed by its own board.
The Nuevo Gardens Memorial Cemetery is a public cemetery located at 532 Ash Street, Ramona, CA 92065, and governed by a three person Board of Trustees. Its trustees are appointed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Because Ramona is not an incorporated city, there are no city limits by which to measure its area. There are primarily three geographic areas by which the land area of Ramona is measured: 1. The boundaries of the Ramona Municipal Water District (approximately ); 2. The boundaries of the Ramona Unified School District (approximately ), and; 3. The boundaries of the Ramona Community Planning Area. The last is the primary area utilized by San Diego County's regional planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
The Ramona Community Planning Area encompasses more than (over ) in central San Diego County. The RCPA includes the unincorporated town of Ramona, California, and is located in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains. It is located east northeast of the City of Poway (with which it shares a boundary), east southeast of the City of Escondido, north of Lakeside, California and west southwest of Santa Ysabel, California.
The RCPA consists primarily of the Santa Maria Valley and the San Vicente Valley, and the steep or mountainous terrain surrounding them. It also includes the Ballena Valley east of town, and Bandy Canyon and a small portion of the southern edge of the San Pasqual Valley. In the San Pasqual Valley, the RCPA abuts the City of San Diego.
The historical town center of Ramona, California is located in the Santa Maria Valley. This valley was the Rancho Santa Maria, a Mexican land grant. The San Vicente Valley was formerly part of the Rancho San Vicente y Padre Barona Mexican land grant. The San Diego County Estates subdivision in Ramona, California, is located in the San Vicente Valley. The Barona Indian Reservation, not part of the RCPA, is also within part of the Rancho San Vicente y Padre Barona Mexican land grant.
The U.S. Census Bureau created a new statistical entity for tabulating summary statistics from Census 2000 by Zip Code, the Zip Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA). Ramona has a single United States Postal Service Zip Code - 92065. (Map of 92065 ZCTA)
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego County's regional planning agency, has compiled census data for all census tracts in the Ramona Community Planning Area (RCPA). These statistics are slightly different than the 92065 ZCTA, as the RCPA includes some land area outside the 92065 Zip Code. (Map of RCPA)
2000 census information for the Ramona CDP, the San Diego Country Estate CDP, 92065 ZCTA, and the RCPA (as prepared by SANDAG), is set forth below.
There were 10,803 households out of which 45.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.5% were married couples living together, 8.67% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.41% were non-families. 13.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.79.
In the RCPA the population was spread out with 30.03% under the age of 18, 8.08% from 18 to 24, 29.01% from 25 to 44, 23.53% from 45 to 64, and 9.34% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.7 years. For every 100 females there were 101.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.
The median income for a household in the RCPA was $60,534. The per capita income for the RCPA was $19,576. About 5.3% of families and 9% of the population were below the poverty line. Only 3.57% of families including a married couple were below the poverty line, while 13.98% of male headed households with no wife present and 14.62% of female headed households with no husband present fell below the poverty line.
Of the population 15 years of age or older, 63% were married (excluding separated), 23% had never been married, 8% were divorced, 4% were widowed, and 1% were separated. Of those 25 or older 86.34% had graduated high school (including GEDs), and 31.1% had attended college, but had not earned a degree. 8% of this group had earned an associate degree, 15% a bachelor's degree and 6% a masters. 2% had gone on to earn a professional school degree, and 1% had earned a doctorate.
72.2% of housing units were owner occupied, with the median value of these set at $240,137. Off all housing units in the RCPA, 82.71% were built in 1970 or later, and 55.1% were built in 1980 or later.
96.03% of occupied households had at least one motor vehicle, and 75.49% had two or more vehicles. For those employed, the average travel time to work was 36 minutes. 14.76% had travel times to work of 60 minutes or more.
According to the United States Census Bureau the Ramona CDP is located at Ramona is located at (33.035868, -116.870633).
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,691 people, 5,021 households, and 3,886 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 396.5/km² (1,026.9/mi²). There were 5,131 housing units at an average density of 129.7/km² (335.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 80.60% White, 0.78% African American, 1.33% Native American, 0.78% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 12.56% from other races, and 3.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 24.99% of the population. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 39.6 km² (15.3 mi²), all land.
There were 5,021 households out of which 43.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.1% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.6% were non-families. 16.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.45.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 101.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.4 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $48,625, and the median income for a family was $53,372. Males had a median income of $40,376 versus $26,105 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,898. About 9.1% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.0% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,262 people, 2,992 households, and 2,650 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 210.7/km² (545.9/mi²). There were 3,102 housing units at an average density of 70.6/km² (182.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92.92% White, 0.72% African American, 0.49% Native American, 1.12% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 1.72% from other races, and 2.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.70% of the population.
There were 2,992 households out of which 47.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 80.0% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 11.4% were non-families. 8.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $77,547, and the median income for a family was $79,409. Males had a median income of $55,825 versus $34,472 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $27,685. About 2.6% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 1.0% of those age 65 or over.
The decline of the Turkey industry was followed by rapid growth in the chicken egg business. Egg production, which began in the 1920s, thrived into the 1970s. In 1970, there were about 50 egg ranches in Ramona. Today, most of the chicken ranches are gone. By 2003, only four remained. A notable exception to the decline is the Pine Hills Egg Ranch, which at 1,100,000 birds is the 58th largest nationally, and the 5th largest in the state of California. The demise of the egg industry was, in part, due to population growth and increased land values. It was also caused by an outbreak of deadly exotic Newcastle's Disease in 1971, which took three years to stem, and another outbreak in late 2002. Learn more about Newcastle's Disease at this USDA website
Dairies used to be common in Ramona, particularly along contiguous Dye Road, Ramona Street and Warnock Road. Today, one dairy remains on Dye Road, and one on Warnock.
Notable among current agricultural pursuits in Ramona is rapidly growing wine grape production. The Ramona Valley American Viticultural Area surrounds the town. An aerial photograph depicting the Ramona Valley Viticultural Area may be viewed at the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association's website
Although the cost of imported water has been a negative issue in recent years, Avocado and Citrus orchards are also prominent.
Perhaps Ramona's greatest recent claim to fame comes from Thoroughbred horse breeding. The Golden Eagle Farm in eastern Ramona's Ballena Valley was the home of Best Pal, the second-place finisher of the 1991 Kentucky Derby. No California bred race horse has earned more than the US$5.6 million in purses he won. Best Pal is buried on the Golden Eagle Farm.